Contract brings new hope for Docklands bomb victims


Victims of the IRA bombing of South Quay have been given new hope of compensation from a contract signed by rebels in the current Libyan conflict.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council, met with victims' lawyer Jason McCue in Benghazi and agreed to a settlement if it can gain power over Colonel Gaddafi.

The contract, which has been seen by The Wharf, states the NTC recognises a need to resolve "certain historical legacy issues involving the Gaddafi regime" with regards to its "support of terrorism and previous acts of violence".

Libya provided Semtex to the IRA for terrorist attacks including that on South Quay which killed two people and injured around 40.

The contract states the NTC declares a "desire to reach a morally just and appropriate settlement" for the UK claimants.

It says the settlement will be in line with that made with US victims of the Lockerbie bombing and the attack on a Berlin disco in 1986. They were given $1.5billion by the African state in 2008.

Gemaa Berezag, whose husband was badly injured in the 1996 blast and now needs full time care, said: "It's very good news and we're now just praying something will come of this. There's people still suffering from that day. It's been a long time."

Gemaa's husband Zaoui was in a car on his way to work when the bomb went off. He was left brain damaged.

"It's getting worse as he gets older," said Gemaa. "And my health is deteriorating as well due to money worries.

"I have to pay for works on my house now which I can barely afford. I'm a carer for my husband and get £53 a week. I'm really hoping something comes of this."

Ihsan Bashir, whose brother Inam died in the South Quay explosion, said: "It's good to hear of the deal and we're hopeful the rebels can take power in Libya.

"But my main concern is what happens to Colonel Gaddafi and whether he is allowed to go into exile. He must face charges for what he has done."

Ihsan's brother was working in the family-run newsagents with colleague John Jeffries on the evening of the explosion. John also died in the blast.

"I hold Gaddafi more responsible than even those who planted the bomb," he said. "They weren't the brains of the operation, they were carrying out orders.

"Gaddafi has been waging war with us for 30 years and I can't believe he has been able to get away with it for so long."

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Jonathan Ganesh, a security guard who was badly injured in the bomb and now leads the Dockland's Victims Association, said the latest development was huge news for the group.

"The transitional government recognise the pain of other people as well as their own pain," said Jonathan. "The previous regime under Gaddafi humiliated us to the point where we were begging at his door and now it's very good news the new government has said they want to do this.

"It's going to mean so much to the people in East London who were injured."

Jonathan, pictured with H2O lawyer Jason, said as well as helping the victims the group wanted use the money to build community projects in Tower Hamlets.