Two South Jersey families still bear Lockerbie scars

FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2009 file photo, Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, gestures on his arrival at an airport in Tripoli, Libya. Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer who was the only person ever convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, died Sunday May 20, 2012 nearly three years after he was released from a Scottish prison to the outrage of the relatives of the attack's 270 victims. He was 60.(AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2009 file photo, Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, gestures on his arrival at an airport in Tripoli, Libya. Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer who was the only person ever convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, died Sunday May 20, 2012 nearly three years after he was released from a Scottish prison to the outrage of the relatives of the attack's 270 victims. He was 60.(AP Photo/File) (Anonymous)
Posted: May 21, 2012

After the only man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing was reported to have died Sunday, two South Jersey families who lost daughters that day were left to wonder if anyone else will be brought to justice.

Susan Cohen, of Cape May Court House, and Stan Maslowski, of Haddonfield, say there are lingering questions about who else was responsible for the bombing of a Pan Am plane that exploded over Scotland, killing 259 onboard and 11 on the ground.

Cohen, whose 20-year-old daughter Theodora, a Syracuse University theater major, was among the dead, worries that the U.S. and British governments will see the death of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi as an excuse to stop investigating the bombing.

"I want the U.S. government to look into who else was involved in this," she said Cohen.

Al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, was jailed for the bombing in 2001, but insisted that he had nothing to do with it. He was allowed to return home in 2009 after doctors said he would die of prostate cancer within three months.

Cohen thinks he should have gotten the death penalty, not a comfortable death in Libya with his family. "My daughter died a gruesome, horrible death at the age of 20," she said.

Cohen said she felt "joy" when Moammar Gadhafi died in 2011 "because he was the real killer." What she felt for al-Megrahi was more muted but, at 74, she was glad to have outlived him. She said she "would like to have killed him on the spot" at his trial.

She scoffed at the idea of closure. She is still angry and said she always will be. Her life went on after the death of her only child, but she has not recovered. "It destroys you," she said. "It destroyed me 23 years ago. . . . It takes the heart out of you and there is no escape from that."

Maslowski, whose 30-year-old daughter, a bond trader, died on the plane, said he heard about al-Megrahi's death just before 8 a.m. It brought back all the old emotions.

"We'll remember it 'til the day we die," he said.

He wonders if all the guilty parties will ever be caught. He said al-Megrahi's death might bring closure, but sounded unconvinced.

New Jersey's two U.S. senators, both Democrats who had strongly opposed al-Megrahi's release, vowed that investigations into the bombing would continue.

"I know that justice has not been fully served and I intend to continue to fight to ensure all leads are pursued, so that we find the truth," Sen. Bob Menendez said in a statement. "I will judge the Libyan government by their commitment to assist us with access to the files and people left from the ousted (Moammar Gadhafi) regime, so that justice can be finally served."

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who served on a presidential commission that investigated the bombing and played a role in securing compensation for the victims' families, said al-Megrahi "died with American blood on his hands and will always be remembered as a murderer."


Contact staff writer Stacey Burling at 215-854-4944 or sburling@phillynews.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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