The story of a 1989 plane crash that killed 170 people and eventually became “the greatest murder case in French history.”
Unlike the Lockerbie airline disaster of late 1988—when Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a bomb, crashing into Lockerbie, Scotland, and killing 270 people—a similar terrorist attack, on UTA Flight 772, en route to Paris from Chad, which wrecked in the desert of Niger a few months later, did not garner such sensational news. Both bombs were ultimately tied to Libyan terrorists acting from the top down. In fact, as attorney Newberger painstakingly chronicles in his first book, the crashing of Flight 772 on Sept. 19, 1989, was completely overshadowed by the Lockerbie tragedy. The author, who also represented terrorist hostage Terry Anderson in his case against Iran in the early 1990s, recounts the process the attorney underwent, thanks to some committed American diplomats, State Department lawyers, and brave victims’ families, to seek accountability from Libya and win an even larger settlement than that for the Lockerbie victims, a settlement extracted from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The suit, Pugh v. Libya (2003), was started by Douglas Matthews, a former pilot–turned–aircraft company owner who had owned the DC-10 craft that crashed in the desert; in 2002, he approached Newberger to investigate a possible legal claim against Libya. Drawing from the extensive criminal research conducted since the crash, the author and his clients put together a strong case, as he delineates here. It is a detail-rich forensic process—fascinating and, ultimately, rewarding, despite the upper-echelon government deals with Gadhafi, who cooperated solely to finagle an end to U.N. sanctions.
A capably sorted delineation of a complex, important court case against Libyan terrorism that required years to extract accountability and compensation for the victims.