WASHINGTON – It's been 20 years since Kara Weipz lost her brother,Rick Monetti,a Syracuse junior,when terrorists bombed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie,Scotland.
Memories came flooding back when her hometown Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series this year. The last time the Phillies won in 1980,she celebrated with Monetti. This year,the 35-year-old celebrated with her 8-year-old son.
The memories flooded back again Thursday. Weipz and other family members gathered in the U.S. Capitol with Sen. Frank Lautenberg,D-N.J.,to announce the final resolution of their claims against the Libyan government's role in the attack.
“The families of the Pan Am 103 bombing victims have waited 20 years for Libya to pay for its deadly acts of violence,” Lautenberg said in prepared remarks. “I am pleased that our relentless pressure and support for terror victims has led to this historic moment.”
The resolution wraps up the ongoing fight of Lockerbie family members for a settlement. In July,Congress passed the Libya Claims Resolution Act,through which Libya settled all outstanding claims to U.S. victims of Libyan terror,including the 270 killed in the Dec. 21,1988,Lockerbie bombing. The bill followed months of negotiation between the Bush administration and the Libyan government.
In 2003,Libya agreed to pay $2.7 billion – $10 million per Pan Am 103 victim. But it had not paid the final 20 percent of that amount by 2006,when it was due. Libya deposited its final payment Oct. 31. In return,Libyan terrorist cases that occurred before the U.S. removed Libya from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism” in 2006 were dropped.
Weipz said that the resolution is a relief for her family.
“It's one door we can close. It's a relief that we have held them 100 percent accountable,” Weipz said.
Carole and Glenn Johnson said that the settlement was far reaching. Their daughter,Beth Ann,a 21-year-old Seton Hill student studying with S.U. abroad,was among the victims.
In 1988,the prospect of a foreign country paying retributions for actions of a terrorist group was unprecedented. Now,they said,any family members of future terrorist victims have a blueprint to follow when seeking justice from Washington and foreign governments.
“You can have some justice. You now have a means of trying to find out what happened,” she said.
The Johnsons have used some of their settlement to help build a new library in their hometown of Greensburg, Pa.,also home to Seton Hill,because they said it was what their daughter would have wanted.
“Whenever something good happens,I say,‘Thanks Beth,'” Carole Johnson said.
Rick Monetti's mother,Eileen Monetti,said the resolution was the result of a lot of hard work. She said that,during the last several years,S.U. has made a concerted effort to keep families in the loop and recognized that the tragedy extended far beyond the 35 Syracuse students lost.
“Syracuse keeps the flame burning,” she said.
Rick's journal was recovered from the debris scene. His mother still remembers one of its passages.
“It said,‘Don't ever give up,' and we have not,” she said.