Strong Emotion Over Lockerbie Announcement

After waiting 10 years for justice in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, relatives of the victims say they are now being denied the right to have their day in court.

A verdict is expected to be issued Wednesday in the case of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah, the two Libya nationals on trial in a special Scottish court in the Netherlands on charges of murdering 270 people in the Dec. 21, 1988, terrorist attack.

The court announced today that the verdict would be read the next day — leaving families of American victims and others scattered around the world with little time to travel to the Netherlands for the decision.

"We were hoping that we'd be able to get over there for the verdict, and we're extremely disappointed that we we're given enough time to be able to do this," said Rosemary Wolfe of Alexandria, Va., whose 20-year-old stepdaughter Miriam died in the attack.

"They made a lot of deals in setting up this trial, and this is one thing they could've done."

‘So Contemptuous …’

Susan Cohen of New Jersey, whose 20-year-old daughter Theodora Cohen was among the victims, was also angry that the verdict would be read at 10 a.m. in the Netherlands — 5 a.m. on the East Coast of the United States.

"It is so contemptuous of the American families," she said. "They didn't even have the decency to make it 1 or 2 o'clock."

The U.S. Justice Department, however, is sending as many as 80 relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing to the Netherlands to see the verdict handed down.

"We've spent probobaly close to about $5-6 million on this case. We have families of 270 victims, so it's a lot of people," said Kathryn Turman, director of the Justice Department's Office of Victims of Crime.

Almost 200 others will watch on closed circuit feeds in New York and Washington.

Kathleen Flynn, whose 21-year-old son John was killed in the crash, said: "I have watched the pieces of the puzzle put together by the prosecution and in my heart, I know very well that these two men committed the crime.

"If in fact they decide, the government decides to just make friends with the Libyans and kissy-facey and everything's fine after, you know, blowing up that many innocent Americans, then I think the American public will react very negatively," Flynn said.

She also put aside hopes for closure. "I mean, it's not going to bring back your son, it's not going to eliminate the empty chair at your table."

Overwhelming Pessimism

Other families were happy that a verdict was simply being issued.

The Rev. John Mosey, a representative of the British families of the bombing victims, said: "It means we can get on with the rather more important stages of the agenda in finding out how and why our children were killed and how it was allowed to happen."

Mosey's 19-year-old daughter Helga was killed in the crash.

Others braced themselves for bad news.

"They are unlikely to get a murder conviction," said Bruce Smith, a former Pan Am pilot whose 32-year-old wife Ingrid died in the crash.

Legal Surprise, Too

The return of the verdict was also a sudden development to legal observers.

When the three judges retired on Jan. 18 for deliberations, they suggested they were unlikely to have reached a verdict by the end of the month. The trial began in May and included 84 days of evidence and testimony, making it the longest trial in British legal history.

But presiding judge Lord Sutherland said today, "We will be in a position to announce a verdict tomorrow."

The two suspects face three possible verdicts from the Scottish High Court: guilty, innocent or not proven.

If found innocent or not proven guilty, they will walk away free men. If found guilty, they will be sentenced to life in prison in Glasgow's Barlinnie prison.

ABCNEWS Radio and ABCNEWS.com's Lucrezia Cuen in London contributed to this report.

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