Thursday, August 20, 2009

Al Megrahi Should Have Been Left to Die in Prison

Ministers are appointed to make decisions, and today Kenny MacAskill made the wrong one. The Scottish Justice Minister has freed the Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds, in order to him to return to Libya to die. He has terminal cancer and less than three months to live.

Showing compassion is a laudable character trait. Jack Straw showed it recently with his decision to free the Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs. But neither Biggs, nor al-Megrahi have shown the slightest remorse or contrition about their crimes, and on that basis did not deserve to be shown any compassion. Neither showed any mercy to the victims of their crimes or their families.

This may sound hard and heartless, but I the only emotions I feel towards al-Megrahi are contempt and anger. His failure to comprehend the magnitude of his crimes and say sorry to those affected by them should have meant that he died in the place he belongs. Prison.

119 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anything other than a release on compassionate grounds would have been a political decision. Whether you belive him to be guilty or not.

subrosa said...

Iain, Al-Megrahi has protested his innocence throughout so surely he cannot show remorse or contrition for something he says he has not done?

Anonymous said...

No Iain, we should not limit our own humanity because of the actions of others. That makes us no better than they are.

Kay Tie said...

"His failure to comprehend the magnitude of his crimes and say sorry to those affected by them"

You make a massive assumption there: That he's actually guilty.

Carl Gardner, Head of Legal said...

I agree. I don't think he'd have even considered this had the majority of victims been Scots. It's a disgraceful decision, and Americans are right to be angry about it.

Incidentally, I found MacAskill's lengthy statement unbearably sanctimonious in tone.

edmayes said...

Cameron has commented 'This man showed no compassion to those he murdered...this is a very bad decision.'.

My take is that he should have died in prison given the severity of the crime and the massive international implications with the US.

Matthew Cain said...

Frances Crook of the Howard League disagrees. She says she is "not convinced that continuing to inflict punishment to the last days assuages the pain of any victim or victims."

http://www.howardleague.org/francescrookblog/compassionate-release-from-prison

Apparently the UK has 2265 prisoners over 60 years old.

Anonymous said...

I am very troubled by the release of this mass murderer.

This seems to be about securing oil.

Having watched this develop over the last few days it was clear that the decision had been made in advance. SNP stating UK government failed to give direction and information.

Blair, Mandelson, Prince Andrew meeting Gaddafi and his cronies inadvance.

Where is the justice for the 270 victims murdered?

Britain in 2009 what a bloody awful country we have become.

Anonymous said...

If he was innocent, then that would have be up to a court of law to decide.

This is decision was a huge mistake.

Jason said...

My understanding also is that there was more than enough reasonable doubt to guarantee his conviction would be quashed if it had been allowed to go that far. His release may not be for the right reason, but that doesn't make it unjust.

CrazyDaisy said...

Iain,

I disagree with your position. there are many issues in this case that will never see the light of day. Al-Megrahi claimed he was innocent of the killings and his conviction was all rather convenient; rather like Dr David Kelly's suicide. I wouldn't trust the UK government with a sharp pencil far less making an honest decision.

Today you and your type have had a lesson in humility by The Scottish Government, take time to reflect and swallow your hatred (pride), 2 worngs do not necessarily make a right.

Finally, I thought Kenny Macaskill showed the world today what is yet to come for Scotland, he was thoroughly professional, decent and gave clarity to an emotive subject that has seen the Unionist press screaming at the SNP for over a week.

Daisy

norman said...

Iain

You should the Scotsman blog where Salmond's rebuttal army is busy shifting blame on Govt here or saying what a statesman like gesture is from the SNP justice minister. This man must have appealed. If he lives even for an year longer, I cannot look at the faces of the the victims relatives. RThis fellow never expressed remorse or never indicated who others might have been involved.

fyoc said...

I would admit that this is a very tough case to make a decision on. Hard cases make bad law.

However, he was an agent of the Libyan Government. He was increasingly beginning to look like a scapegoat.

Interesting how the Americans regard him as a terrorist mass murderer yet their legal system viewed IRA terrorists as freedom fighters and therefore refused to extradite them back to the UK during the 70's/80's and 90's.

JMB said...

I think it is right as I have never been sure that he was guilty.

I don't think the American relatives care whether he was guilty or not, they just want someone in prison.

Quite amusing to listen just now to the Shadow Justice Minister complaining about the decision being leaked seven days ago! Labour would never do that of course. :=)

Anonymous said...

he should have been hanged already.

Anonymous said...

Well said Iain. Biggs and Megrahi should both have died in prison.

A criminal is a criminal weather or not they have a terminal disease.

Graham said...

Look at the evidence, Iain. The man is a victim of a massive miscarriage of justice. He should never have been imprisoned in the first place.

Doug said...

There can be no compassion for Al Megrahi considering that he committed mass murder. He simply doesn't qualify.

Carl Gardner, Head of Legal said...

@Kay Tie: it's perfectly reasonable to assume him guilty, since he's been convicted. You benefit from the presumption of innocence before conviction, not after.

And to mix up doubts about his guilt with the question of compassionate release is just wrong. If there's doubt about his guilt it should have been resolved by the second appeal, which he's just abandoned. His first appeal failed.

The only question here is whether in all the circumstances compassion pointed to his release. I certainly don't think so, given he was convicted of killing 270 people (more than the inquiry thought Harold Shipman murdered), given that, as Kenny MacAskill said today, he could live more than three months and given that, unlike in the case of Ronald Biggs, he's not even being released on licence.

Scottish Politics said...

To allow Mr al-Megrahi to die in a Scottish prison would be vengeance, not justice and it is important for the sake of our society that this distinction is always uppermost in our minds. Vengeance is rarely just and never merciful and breeds only resentment and hate.

Anonymous said...

Is there some deeper meaning in nthe fact that those wanting Al-Megrahi to rot in prison, on the whole, can't spell?

Old Holborn said...

Labourlist has expired. Someone forgot to renew the DNS

Idiots

John said...

Tomorrow I will wake up exactly as I woke this morning. Keeping him or releasing him is immaterial in every respect. For everyone that says "Do this" there is another saying "Don't do that. Do this" Of all the problems in UK alone this attracts the attention it has. Where are the protests about military deaths?

Obsidian said...

Iain, given just how dubious the original conviction was - evidence tampered with, evidence withheld - it's a pity he's got terminal cancer, as his appeal would've been something to behold.

What is disgraceful is the fact the real bombers - probably Iranian or Syrian backed - have got away.

neil craig said...

The fact is he was innocent. The initial inquiry was entirely aimed at Syria & it was only when Syria joined is in Gulf war 1 that the frame shifted to Libya. They found the Libyan who came closest to being somewhere which could conceivably have linked with handling the bomb & set him up.

On the other hand if it is possible to show "compassion" in reducing the sentence for innocence it is disgusting that we are still imprisoning Fikret Abdic for the "war crime" of opposing genocide by al Quaeda back when they were our allies.

Our judges are clearly corrupt but I suppose that is why they get the job.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree Iain.

This man has done roughly nine years in prison - two and a half months for each of his victims (less time than he, in fact, has left to live).

"Compassion" for this individual can be shown by giving him the care and treatment he needs in the final stages of his life but he should not be allowed to die a free man. I just hope that the Libyan government does not treat him a to a hero's welcome when he returns to Tripoli on Ghaddaffi's private Airbus - that really will be the kick in the teeth.

I think that this is a shameful decision by the Scottish Executive and smacks of amateurish, second rate politicians getting a kick out of sticking two fingers up to the Government of the United States.

Personally, I just won't travel to Scotland and spend a single penny there so long as the SNP remains in power if that's the way they want to deal with terrorists.

Bart said...

He's innocent.

If you doubt that, just read the feeble nonsense that the judges wrote to justify their verdict at the original trial.

Warsteiner said...

I agree with your post 100% Ian.

I am absolutely seething with rage at this decision, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Editor said...

Agree completely - the nats are disgrace

Tory Bear

tory boys never grow up said...

Perhaps the compassion on releasing terminally ill prisoners to die is not for the prisoner, who is going to die anyway, but for their friends and relatives? I fail to see how punishing them would achieve anything for anyone.

I know Megraji showed no compassion for the friends and relatives of those he murdered but don't we have higher standards?

Anonymous said...

Come off it Iain. The guy demonstrably didn't do it. The trial was a joke and he should have been let out years ago. Jailing him was an insult to the families of the people who died.

No Society said...

Al-Megrahi, who has protested his innocence all along, was likely a retaliation fall guy for the USS Vincennes shooting down Iranian flight 655, killing 290 innocent people mid 1988. He was though convicted and is now about to die. Don’t forget the “man of [jack] straw’s” UK extradition of Pinochet to a hero’s welcome. A mass murderer who died an innocent man.

This is a major shot across the bow to the righteous US administration and rightly so. Scottish government showing the courage sadly lacking in Westminster. Why did the UK government sign a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya in May - when the Scottish government lobbied against such an agreement? Westminster has been exposed here too on this basis by MacAskills rejection.

Wonder what ramifications this will have for “terrorist most wanted” Gary McKinnon.

Anonymous said...

Surely the point is bad legislation:

The rules that govern a land should be obeyed and only changed democrtically. Politicians should not have the authority to over-rule the law but only to change it by democratic process.

Of course he shouldn't be released but we all make our bed on election day.
CSE

Hurf Durf said...

If Gordy Broon isn't on the phone to the White House explaining that it was Edinburgh's decision and not London's, he's an idiot.

flower said...

Why would a man who has always protested his innocence withdraw his appeal at this stage?

Was his withdrawal of his appeal a condition of his release?

If it was, then the sanctimonious guff about compassion is meaningless; someone has done a deal to keep the dirty laundry hidden from sight.

Anonymous said...

This may sound hard and heartless, but I the only emotions I feel towards al-Megrahi are contempt and anger.

That's fine, as far as it goes, but your opinion is less important than the opinions of the people in Lockerbie.

David Lindsay said...

A very bad decision.

The appeal should never have been withdrawn. But it was. (For that matter, he should have been tried by a jury. But he wasn’t.) So he is legally guilty of 270 murders. People have died in prison, including of horrible conditions, while legally guilty of an awful lot less than that. The Scottish Justice Secretary has now called significantly into question the integrity and reliability of the Scottish justice system. That hardly seems like anything that a Scottish Nationalist should wish to do. It is certainly not anything that a citizen of the United Kingdom, within the fundamental documents of which Scots Law is specifically protected, should wish to do.

Kenny McAskill, and with him necessarily Alex Salmond, has gone feral, doing something like this merely because he can. Downing Street’s view on this matter of the utmost international sensitivity was made perfectly apparent when several of the Prime Minister’s closest American allies signed that letter. That view has been wholly disregarded. Merely because it can be.

Well, two can play that game. There are legion ways in which Whitehall and Westminster, never mind elements broadly classifiable under the Departments of State most directly concerned with this matter, can tread on Holyrood’s toes, if they are so minded. Which, as of this afternoon, they most definitely will be.

Bucket of Tongues said...

Disagree. We are a compassionate, civillised society. That's what seperates us from terrorists. Lead by example.

When did mercy go out of vogue as a quality of leadership?

albertmbankment said...

He is, almost certainly, not guilty. Libya, itself, was almost certainly not responsible.

Surely the fact that the saintly Dr Swire, whose daughter died at Lockerbie, believes that Al-Megrahi is innocent should be enough for people to reconsider the wretchedly paltry evidence against him.

I rally hope that he does make a 'miraculous' recovery, to rival that of Ernest Saunders from Alzheimer's, and that he will eventually be exonerated. Then I'd like to see the Lockerbie families return the millions that was shamefully extorted from Libya, as they surely must do if they have a scrap of honour.

No, I won't be holding my breath for that!

Kate. said...

If they wanted to be compassionate give him some extra paraceetemol, end off. this is a disgraceful decision.

Ferret said...

I don't know if he's guilty or not - we'll have to trust the courts' decision on that one. But I don't think any crime should completely rule out the application of human compassion as a person nears death. The fact that *he* showed no compassion is hardly an argument to base our moral approach on his.

I'm no fan of the SNP at all, but I thought Kenny MacAskill explained pretty well why he was making the decision as he did. Other people might have made it differently, but that doesn't make it necessarily unreasonable or stupid. It's one of those difficult decisions that have to be made, and it was clearly one he'd put a lot of thought into. He acted in a way that will give him little political gain, but that he believed to be right, based on the evidence he had in front of him. I don't think that's something to condemn, regardless of your own views on the decision you would have made in his shoes.

(If nothing else it might lead to the cancellation of Tartan Day in America, which can only be a bonus!)

Old Holborn said...

He didn't do it.

He was just a convenient scapegoat

Even Pravda know it

Go to Syria and you will find the real culprits.

The Lakelander said...

For those of you who have trouble understanding Kenny MacAskill's accent, I have a summary of his half hour speech here

albertmbankment said...

Ronnie Biggs was unquestionably guilty. He was a peripheral player, but guilty. The evidence was rock-solid. He admitted his guilt. His sentence was harsh, so he went on the run, but he was guilty.

Al-Megrahi was convicted on tainted, manipulated, bribed and coerced testimony. The evidence was flimsy. Libya was not put in the frame until 2 years after the incident, when it becamse politically expedient to accommodate Iran at the expense of Libya. He has always maintained his innocence. His supposed accomplice in the conspiracy was acquitted.

Anonymous said...

Tricky to know how to feel here - there's clearly been a pretty cynical political deal to release him for the benefit of trade with Libya.

On the other hand, so much about the initial guilty verdict absolutely stinks. The owner of the Swiss firm that made the timer claimed he was offered $4m to testify (and lie), and at the trial evidence was tampered with. Another employee ended up making the same testimony, and admitted a couple of years back he did lie in the trial.

Still, now we'll never know, since as part of the deal that's going to allow him to go back to Libya, he had to drop the appeal. How very tidy.

Seamaster73 said...

A manifestly innocent man, who should never have been incarcerated in the first place. A pity the Scots hadn't had the bawz to hear his appeal - that stinks of political expediency.

Anonymous said...

How can you feel guilt for something you have not done?

neil craig said...

Before anybody offers either bouquets or brickbats to the "Scottish government" for "their decision" remember Jack Straw's decision on 1st July not to show compassion to Ronnie Biggs & then on 6th August releasing him. Clearly if Biggs had still been in jail it would not have been possible to say Megrahi deserved "compassion" for what would, if he had been guilty, far worse crimes.

So was the whole thing set up in London (& possibly Washington) beforehand, just like the original conviction & all the judges, experts & other functionaries just play acting? Or was Straw's 180 reversal pure coincidence? When you put it like that ...

Anonymous said...

Only question is: was he actually guilty?

There seem to be quite a few things in the prosecution case that never tied up.

Weygand said...

Even if Al Megrahi planted the device (about which there appears to be some doubt), nobody believes that he was the architect of the attack.

Those who bear most responsibility are those who ordered him to do it.
Yet, those evil men have never been identified, and seem likely never to suffer any punishment at all.

I find it extraordinary that people are more concerned that one underling (and possible scapegoat) might be allowed home a few weeks before his death than about the cynicism of our own governments which have seen to it that his appeal will never be held and so that the real culprits will get off 'scot free'.

Not a sheep said...

Al-Megrahi is almost certainly innocent and the guilty men living in Syria. However as he was found guilty by a court then he should not be released early without the Libyans supplying us with the man/men who killed WPC Fletcher.

The early release is about oil exploration and other joint ventures. It seems that in the UK justice can go hang when money is involved.

Joe Public said...

Libya has oil we want.

Bardirect said...

Not only a scapegoat but you overlook the fact that he has developed a normally treatable cancer which has been left undiagnosed for too long whilst languishing in Scottish custody.

He has quite simply been given a death sentence.

Anonymous said...

Straw released Biggs because he knew the Libyan was about to be freed.

Straw was acting on Straw's behalf.

idonotbelieveit said...

Iain,

I thought it was pretty much common knowledge that there are significant doubts regarding the man's guilt, yet you sound so certain.

I can see why Mr C said it like he did, he needs to keep on the right side of Obama - but please - a little less self-righteousness!!

Anonymous said...

If bush were around would we or rather Scotland now be part of the axis of evil.

Anonymous said...

>>Showing compassion is a laudable character trait. Jack Straw showed it recently with his decision to free the Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs.<<

Straw did nothing of the sort. He originally decided NOT to release Biggs, then changed his mind when he came up against the usual criminal-as-victim cohort of his own party. Surely you know that, Iain???

As to Al Megrahi, I listened to the whole Kenny MacAskill claptrap. Gawd... what a series of excuses to explain why a murderer got released so BP could have a lucrative oil contract.

Anonymous said...

The difference between the American response and the British response to this issue and to the healthcare debate is interesting.

America is supposedly the more Christian country, and yet they fret about introducing healthcare coverage for the uninsured and releasing a dying man on compassionate grounds.

This more secular country is perhaps the more "Christian".

Chap said...

So this is what devolution was all about. Power without responsibility - the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.

Anonymous said...

I am ashamed to be British today. I want to apologise to the Americans.

Anonymous said...

OIL

norman said...

Colonel Mummar Gadaffi will next invite Salmond and his justice minister for a dinner in his desert tent which is protected by young and pretty women commandos!

The Obama administration should simply bar Salmond and his ministers from visiting USA. Salmond spent weeks in USA last time going around to Scots-American enclaves and rousing their emotions in respect of independent Scotland. He needs his buddy of Scots extraction Donald Trump to regenerate a waste land in Aberdeen with golf courses and luxury homes.

JC said...

Oh Iain, do you get off your high horse. It is very dull. If you knew anything about the original court case and controversey surrounding the conviction of Al-Megrahi you would know that the case against him is incredibly weak.

Tony Gauci - the maltese shopkeeper and the only witness to pick Al-Megrahi out of an ID parade was subsequently given millions by the Americans and a new life in Australia.

Was justice done or just the appearence of justice?

norman said...

Could this Scottish minister be extradited to USA?

Osama the Nazarene said...

Heartily agree with you AND the SNP have carried out a typical NuLiebor fudge. Mandelslime came to a deal with Gadafi and the SNP kow towed to him.

This was a political decision dressed up as a humanitarian one. Cowardly.

Kay Tie @1:56PM the court found him guilty so its a fair enough assumption to make. That is a fair enough assumption to make. We do not live in Stalinist Russia so our courts are independent much to the chagrin of NuLiebor totalitarians.

Patrick said...

freed in the national interest. Just think of all the cheap petrol coming our way.

I dont think this makes alot of difference, just as long as he does die a miserable death in 3 weeks time.

christian said...

I believe there are grave risks to the safety of this conviction, which would have been apparent, and highly embarassing, if an appeal had been heard. He may well have preferred to clear his name through an appeal. However it looks as if he would be dead before that could happen. Compassionate? Yes. Convenient? Highly - including for the US. All the politicians - Dave, Hillary, various senators, happy to play to the gallery. McCaskill coming in his pants as he seizes 25 minutes of World at One to drone on....I'm sorry for the victims' relatives - but many of them will share these sentiments.

Believer said...

Yes sometimes politicians make mistakes this in my mind was a HUGE one he should have been left to die behind bars. Yes I do believe that some people get blammed for things they have not done BUT most are liars

norman said...

Guilty or not he was convicted according Scottish Laws by Scottish judges. The appeal was the only process left and why did he delay it? If he is as ill As Saunders was
then what? After breathing fresh desert air his cancer may get a remission!

Anonymous said...

Doubts over his innocence are irrelevant to the facts.

He was set free as a guilty person on compassionate grounds.

So the debate should be whether a murderer of 280 people should be shown compassion or not.

Bearing in mind that he does have a family home in Scotland where he could have spent his final months with his loved ones, then the decision to send him back to Libya sounds more like politics than compassion.

Kay Tie said...

"@Kay Tie: it's perfectly reasonable to assume him guilty, since he's been convicted. You benefit from the presumption of innocence before conviction, not after."

You're making the assumption that he got a fair trial. Don't you remember the details? The Hague? The lack of a jury? The evidence that went "missing"? The political interference in the trial? The independent UN report concluding that the trial was unfair?

The appeal was dropped yesterday. The man was released today. This is not a coincidence: realpolitik says to release him now than have the Court of Appeal quash his conviction, leading to the question "who did do it then?"

Paul Pinfield said...

Iain, there is a difference between Mr Al-Megrahi and Biggs. Biggs has never denied the crime, whereas Mr Al-Megrahi has fought his conviction from day one.

The holes in the Al-Megrahi case a such that there is wide scale disquiet at the conviction. Those to are not aware of international concern should read the UN report into the trial: http://web.archive.org/web/20071014071630/http://portia.org/chapter12/lockerb1.html

As it happens, I think that both Mr Al-Megrahi and Biggs should have been released. Mr Al-Megrahi because he is manifestly innocent, and Biggs because he is a within weeks of the end of his life.

Compassion is not something to be rationed Iain. If we deny compassion to those to showed no compassion to other, we become a soiled as they are.

Angry of Edinburgh said...

totally agree. This is an appalling decision by a minister out of his depth. However, there's no way this decision would have been made without Alex Salmond's approval (despite what Kenny said) and so I would call for a vote of no confidence in both the First and the Justice ministers.

Anonymous said...

So if we are supposed to show terrorists compassion, why are we trying to blow Bin Laden off the face of the earth when he is also supposedly terminally ill?

None of the above said...

I imagine every neanderthal yelling for blood hasn't taken the time to look at the evidence surrounding the case. The man is very obviously innocent.

Richard Lucas said...

I assume Megrahi is guilty as charged - I hated watching him fly away - and I still think Kenny MacCaskill made the right choice. We are the good guys - we understand and exercise compassion. Megrahi's side are the bad guys, cowards and killers. We are meant to behave better than them.

Anonymous said...

Another little snippet of what sort of "conviction" this was. The key witness that identified Megrahi in Malta said he was in his 50s, when he was 36. He also said he was 6 foot+, when Megrahi is 5'8, a touch bizarre considering the witness was a tailor.

Anonymous said...

Iain, you are barking up the wrong tree. He is just as much a victim as the people on the plane.

He was just a 'bagman' who was chosen to be the scapegoat. This is yet more ill-informed speculation from you on a topic you clearly know little, and care less, about.

Jim Swire was on the telly earlier asking why information about a break in at Heathrow was kept away from the trial.

And now you are just jumping on the 'hang em and flog em' bandwagon of the Yanks.

Besides, there's oil in them thar Libyan hills, and you surely would not want to stop Mandy from his remit of helping British industry to the max ? After all, that is what the Yanks would do in the same position...

p.s. what is the betting Al-Megrahi will have been 'euthanased' with some morphine before gaddafi appears before the UN ??

IN A BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN THE COUNTRY... said...

I am waiting to see what labour minister comes out with the soundbite against the SNP.

I am betting the odious Mr Fowlkes will be first up , have no doubt that this will be purely to stir up hatred amongst Scots and vote Labour because there is still a grudge against us scots for not voting labour as our primary government.

Watch out for the anti-SNP smears.
However Twitter
"LabourHatetheTroops" should begin soon enough.

Salmondnet said...

If he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt he should have died in prison. If there is a reasonable doubt, that should have been stated reason for his release.

But complaints from anyone who supported the Northern Ireland "peace process", involving the release of many IRA and loyalist murderers, can be discounted.

Anonymous said...

the scottish executive have shown a complete lack of ability to run anything,never mind an independent scotland.

so there is a bright spot to this disgraceful decision.

independence is doomed.

an independent scotland would be classify scotland with other despot regimes around the world,if it was run by these looneys.

Madasafish said...

Of course he should have served his sentence. he was guilty on a scale few have seen since WW2.

And for those who claim he was innocent, think on this. You are saying Scottish justice is wrong and has been wrong on a major scale. How do you KNOW?

You cannot.

Unless you believe in Ms Harman's "Court of Public Opinion"!!!


If he was innocent he should have appealed. Oops he did and lost.

If he was innocent, why did Gadaffi pay $800Million in compensation?

Follow the money ...

And why if he was innocent did he refuse to plead at his trial?

Ooops..

Paul Halsall said...

Read the New York Times comments - http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/world/europe/21lockerbie.html

And you soon see the Ugly American rear his head. Try No. 24: "Scotland should be made to pay a price for this decision. I await the Obama Administration's reaction with bated breath."

Or 17: "The United States should recall its Ambassador to Scotland to make it clear that American lives ARE our national interest"

I am very unsure about this decision, but the Americans typically (across the political spectrum) expect "American Lives" to mean something more than other lives, and do not understand why this notion even might annoy others.

David Lindsay said...

Look, I don’t think he did it, lots of people don’t, and I can’t imagine that anyone seriously thinks he did it on his own (I mean, come on!).

But he is legally guilty.

And people have died in prison, including of cancer, while legally guilty of a hell of a lot less than the murders of 270 people.

Anonymous said...

Show him the same mercy he showed his victims - blow his plane up on the way home.

Anonymous said...

Iain,
I'm surprised by your comments.

You're not touting for a job as a feature / headline writer for the Daily Mail are you?

Macha Maguire said...

OK, I've followed this blog for a while now, but there's only so much right-wing cant I can take - at least this reminds me why 'Conservative' and 'Progressive' are opposing concepts.

First of all, there was an appeal under way that could well have shown this man innocent - but he'd have died before the process was complete.

second, the need for retribution, vengeance and the infliction of pain is what fuels and fires most of the world's conflicts. If we can each reach for compassion, mercy and empathy, the world might change, not before.

AMW said...

This from the times today, great comment:

Sara Briody wrote:
laughing stock? i think people around the world are too busy laughing at brithsh efforts in iraq and afghanistan, our failed banking system to give much thought to scotland's compassion for a dying man.
do you not realise that this decision to release magrahi was taken 2 years ago by blair in his "deal in the desert"? he arrongantly forgot to take into account that scottish ministers are the ones to approve prisoner transfers. he also did the deal discounting the notion that the SNP would decimate labour's majority in scotland just a few months later. this decision to release megrahi was just and right, but it was not of scotland's making.
and by the way americans - your government might be making lots of hissing and spitting noises right now but theres no way blair would have done the deal with gadaffi without america's say so.
........

Indy said...

Megrahi has shown no renorse because he says he didn't do it.

Who knows what the truth is? Most people in Scotland think that he's a scapegoat but the truth will never be known and sensible people accept that.

Guilty or innocent, it was decided to deal with his case through the Scottish judicial system.

In that system dying prisoners are routinely released. The Prison authorities and Parole Board recommended Megrahi should be released so that is what the Justice Secretary did.

We can all understand that it is upsetting but the decision was taken to deal with the case in Scotland so it is Scottish rules that apply.

If the Americans wanted to see him draw his last breath in a prison cell he should have been imprisoned in the States, not Scotland.

Gallimaufry said...

The 270 people murdered in 1989will still be dead and Islamic terrorists will still try to kill us for not being muslim whether Megrahi is freed or not. At least the Scottish Prison Service no longer has to pay for his bed and board.

jailhouselawyer said...

A tailor-made witness paid $2M reward money for fingering Al-Megrahi...

Daveip1966 said...

Iain, as much as I respect you, though disagreeing with you, I cannot respect your stance on this.

Cancer can be quick, or it can be slow, but oncologists tend to know when it's fatal (sadly, by the time my own father's cancer was noticed, and then found to be terminal, I didn't have time to buy the air ticket to get to him in time to say goodbye). Sometimes you get months, sometimes you get weeks.

If terminal cancer is confirmed, it seems moral to me for the man to be repatriated for his final days, where he may be able to find peace with his god, either for his actions, if he is truly guilty, or for his suffering, if he is innocent. Compassion should be the heart of all our decisions of this kind, both for trespassers and those trespassed against. Further, in the Islamic world, it can be especially significant at this time of year, perhaps even leading, where appropriate, to repentance.

If this man, for that's what he is, is to suffer the agony of a slow death, surely our compassion must override our desire for vengeance?

Guthrum said...

Think about the Oil and Gas Iain, the Captain of the USS Vincennes is still at large after shooting down an Iranian Airliner with 300 on board months before Pan Am 103

All 600 lives are of equally value- but in the National Interest of States they count not a jot.

Jules said...

i wonder. would harold shipman have been released in the same circumstances of terminal illness had he not committed suicide while in clink?

i think not.

this has the foreign office's over-expedient and cack-handed dabs all over it. well, 'twas ever thus.

Anonymous said...

I Disagree. Releasing a dying man on compassionate grounds is a legitimate and morally courageous decision. It is also a mark of a civilised society and a civilised justice system.

Politically his release could also have been justified on the same basis as the release of terrorists from the IRA. Times have moved on since Lockerbie and as Lockerbie was a political act of terrorism rather than (just) a common crime we have a political duty to take political decisions about individual terrorists. Keeping al-Megrahi locked up makes as much sense as locking up, say, Gerry Adams until his last breath. Or pursuing other terrorists who have gone on to achieve high office around the world.

We might not like it one bit. We might recoil at the inhumanity of the crime. We might wish to extract the last drop of retribution. But politics is the art of making horrible decisions for the greater good of civilisation rather than the art of crafting a soundbite to please the Americans.

Mirtha Tidville said...

It would be a poor decision if we could be sure Al Megrahi was the one responsible for this terrible crime. However, although he was convicted, I certainly would not say it was a safe or resounding conviction...Therefore I think that the SNP have made the correct decision..

The response from the Yanks is sadly all too predictable....

Anonymous said...

I lived in the middle east and north africa, including Libya, for a number of years. If there was one nation on earth too incompetent to carry out such a complicated plan, I believe it to be Libya. My money has always been on the Iranians, who are intelligent, and as demanding of an eye for an eye as the Americans, even if it may be an entirely innocent eye. They released him because he withdrew his appeal, simple as that, because there are too many political careers at stake.

Anonymous said...

lets think of another murderer to release next week.

how would the pro-lease people on this site be if their family were murdered by an early release criminal?

appaling liberal nonsense.

Thomas Rossetti said...

I agree with you, Iain. This is a terrible decision. Over here in the US, people are up in arms about it. If he was going to die anyway, why not let him die in the relative comfort of a Scottish jail.

Britain has business interests in Libya. So what? Are they really going to ask BP et al. to leave because the Scots won't release a terminally ill man from prison.

This is a dreadful decision that will have long-lasting consequences for Scottish-US relations.

Rab C. Nesbitt said...

Let's look at it from another angle.

http://tinyurl.com/la72oj

iain rennie said...

as a scot i am deeply imbarresed by this decision of release what crime must someone commit in the uk to actually serve the sentence,i hope im not the only scot to ask forgiveness for this political decision,horific.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Iain,

I will repeat what I said to Shane Greer: the reason that al-Megrahi should go free is because he didn't do it.

DK

henry young said...

What, all we all of a sudden giving out FREE Lunches? Since when??? Under what premise? Did this guy learn his lesson? Who knows, right? Well I guess we’ll have to find out the hard way, maybe???

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, Rab C. I'd forgotten about the medals. Would laugh if it weren't so stomach-churning.

James said...

I agree with the headline; ideally, anyone convicted of this atrocity should have been executed after appeals were exhausted - to release anyone convicted of this is appalling. If there had been some evidence suggesting his innocence, that would be another matter: he could appeal and be acquitted, but that simply isn't the case: he remains convicted of 270 counts of premeditated murder, yet he has been released after serving less than eleven days for each.

This is not even close to justice - I'm ashamed to have this clown in any position of authority in the country in which I live, and look forward to voting against his party at the first opportunity I get. (I think this is their least-safe seat, too, so it might even make a difference this time!)

James said...

Anonymous, you may find 'Rab C's implication funny and/or stomach-churning, but the reality is that the Vincennes was engaged by Iranian craft, making the Combat Ribbon entirely accurate - without any connection to the A300 shootdown. His link does also note that they made at least ten attempts to contact it beforehand...

Anonymous said...

Dear James:

It was a kick in the face to the Iranians to hand out those ribbons. Deliberate provocation, can you just imagine what the Yanks would have said if the positions were reversed? And now everyone is paying for their arrogance. And will continue paying as vendettas never end until there's only one man left standing. Interesting times are ahead of us for many decades to come.

Technology Slice said...

The guy only has 3 months to live.

albertmbankment said...

Iain, I resent your imputation of naiveté. The demonising of Libya, and the subsequent conviction of Mr Al-Megrahi, has always been deeply suspect. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission was blisteringly critical of the judicial process - http://www.sccrc.org.uk/ViewFile.aspx?id=293 - in allowing the second appeal which will now not proceed. The original identification evidence was risible. Much crucial evidence was suppressed. Mr Al-Megrahi has always maintained his innocence.

I'm afraid that I regard as naive those people who insist, in the face of the evidence, that he was failrly tried and properly convicted. I regard as naive those people who insiste that mistakes are never made, and that innocent people never go to prison. I am fairly sure that the families of Stefan Kiszko, Stephen Downing, Angela Cannings, Sally Clarke, the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, Timothy Evans, Eddie Browning, Eddie Guilfoyle, the many 'victims' of the West Midlands Serious Crimes Squad and countless others will empathise with that view.

For years after Lockerbie the assumption was that it was done by Palestinians. A cell was broken in Germany, discovered to be making identical bombs in identical cassette-players. It was only *after* Iraq (previously an ally of sorts) invaded Kuwait, and the West needed Iran on-side as a regional counterweight, that blame suddenly shifted to another convenient pariah state.

Yes, Mr Al-Megrahi was a spook. Yes, he travelled on fake passports, just like CIA and MI6 spooks do. So what? Yes, Libya supplied the IRA with Semtex. Yes, it supported 'liberation' groups. Yes, it was odious and misguided.

Before you hurl your flip analyses of naiveté around, please at least take a look at the contrasting evidence. Please consider the possibility that this is not a miscarriage of justice, but a disgraceful stitch-up in the name of realpolitik.

I have a particular interest in this because a member of my family should have been on the flight, but missed it when a meeting over-ran. I believe Mr Al-Megrahi to be almost certainly innocent. I don't ask you to think the same, but I do ask you to take a dispassionate and objective view before casually condemning me and others for our 'naiveté'.

neil craig said...

If guilty he should have been hung.

If innocent he should have been released long ago.

He is clearly innocent & if that makes the Scottish judiciary look like corrupt scum who will happily pervert the course of justice to serve politicians, then it would not be the first time. The poisoning of Milosevic could not have taken place without ac Scottish judge's cooperation.

neil craig said...

If guilty he should have been hung.

If innocent he should have been released long ago.

He is clearly innocent & if that makes the Scottish judiciary look like corrupt scum who will happily pervert the course of justice to serve politicians, then it would not be the first time. The poisoning of Milosevic could not have taken place without ac Scottish judge's cooperation.

Lady Finchley said...

I have a good idea Paul Pinefield - if you are so concerned about that scum Ronnie Biggs have him come and spend his 'last days' in a nursing home in your borough - not mine (Barnet). I bitterly resent having my taxes pays for his nursing home when he lived high on the hog on the proceeds of his crime and the notoriety that went with it. No doubt the London Borough of Barnet will refuse me free nursing care because I have the temerity to have my own home which I have fought to keep through some pretty bad times and for which I will have to work until I am 72. I pay throught the nose in taxes but I will never get to reap the benefits all because I worked hard to keep my modest little three bedroom terrace.

Lady Finchley said...

Funny how all of you armchair lawyers just 'know' he is innocent. And if he is, Libya and all the other Arab countries have allowed him to be a scapegoat instead of putting their considerable wealth behind getting him freed.

I wonder how many of you were equally outraged when the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six were allowed to lose over a decade of their lives for a case that was a blot on British justice from beginning to end. Not many I'd wager because it is a well known fact that the British don't really like the Irish whereas they have always had some weird Lawrence of Arabia type affection for the Arabs. Plus, many, especially the Scottish, hate Americans so of course this guy is innocent.

Cruachan said...

"Scotland the Brave" sometimes has an artificial, hollow ring and can be put alongside the tartan and shortbread and tourist attractions, but yesterday was the real thing.

This was true Government (with Kenny MacAskill acting in a quasi-judicial role) based on principles of justice and compassion. It was a real moment of truth for the Scottish Government.

I don't pretend to know whether the original conviction of Al Megrahi was the right decision, but a Scottish Court, (sitting on Dutch soil) made a judgement based on the evidence and the law. There continues to be debate about Al-Megrahi's guilt or otherwise and a number of the relatives of the Scottish victims at Lockerbie seem to be convinced that the real plotters and perpetrators of the outrage have never been brought to justice. Many more of the American victims' families are equally convinced of his guilt and remain angry and sometimes vengeful. However, Al Megrahi - a convicted mass murderer - is a dying man.

Seen through the eyes of the victims' families, all they ever wanted was to see their own loved ones walking down the stairs of a plane after that fateful journey. I did have mixed feeling watching the perhaps inevitable celebrations at Tripoli Airport and the strange site of St Andrew flags being waved, but it was a good day.

Over and above the rights and wrongs of the case itself, what struck me most about yesterday's events was that this was a glimpse at the future. Scotland taking responsibility for its own affairs and the consequences for its actions.

Despite heavy pressure on both sides of the Atlantic, in the full glare of the world's media spotlight, Kenny MacAskill made a brave decision yesterday and his clear and dignified statement set out the case convincingly. Scotland standing tall saying this is us, this is what we believe, this is what we stand for.


The future is within our grasp.

http://loosechange-cruachan.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Megrahi = innocent. Fitted up and now released on "compassionate" grounds, acc. to Scottish law. All those who are saying he should have been hung are simply reprehensible and driven by typical blood lust of the 'little guy'. Paul Foot elucidated this judicial travesty long ago, but was ignored by all the 'big power' guys, Tory and now New labour. Revenge - that was for the Iranians, who 'almost certainly' financed/ sponsored the Lockerbie bomb. Revenge for the Iran Air plane shot down 6 months before Lockerbie, loss of life almost exactly the same. There the US navy guy was given a medal for the deed. Tragedy is we wont find out the truth until this is 'old history', if at all. And all in the name of the desperate search for 'energy', which Libya has in abundance. A conspiracy theory - no, just the same old immorality, followed by the obligatory ranting from the assorted toffs about 'socialism', 'left chips' , sundry anti-scotts chauvinism, and similar vindictive name calling.....and you wonder why many 'ordinary' people loathe 'politics' -t's because people like you are so repellent, socially speaking. No closure for victims families, of EITHER tragedy, but at least an innocent man gets to die at home. Oh yeah - read Paul Foot on this - before spouting deeply reactionary drivel.

Lisa said...

Even though he is dying,he should not be trusted and he should still be monitored.

mdks said...

This link was posted above. I think people should look at it.

http://web.archive.org/web/20071014071630/http://portia.org/chapter12/lockerb1.html

Given the points made (see paras. 7 and 9 especially), it is little wonder that Al-Megrahi had to drop his appeal to get out.

Scott @ loveandgarbage said...

I wasn't aware of your post on this topic until late last night so apologies for coming late to this.

My sisters were at my grandmother's house in Lockerbie on the night of the disaster. The house 4 doors from hers was completely destroyed. They cowered in the room as flames fell from the sky. My mother was a nurse who attended on the night - answering a call out made across Soputh Scotland and Cumbria for medical staff to go. I was there 2 days after watching young soldiers remove body after body from the remains of that building near my grandmother's house. I saw body parts on the hillside - each tagged with markers. I saw a chair witha body in, its arm hanging loose, in a window to the rear of my grandmother's property. One of my sisters is still being treated for PTSD. (I have written about this on my blog at http://loveandgarbage.livejournal.com/219625.html ).

My own family remains scarred by this. True we did not lose anyone - but my relatives lost friends, and no-one in our area was un affected. And living for years afterwards with mental illness directly related to the incident is no fun for anyone. And a protracted debilitating illness is a serious loss for anyone.

When I spoke with my family last week we were of the view that Megrahi should have been released. He is terminally ill. The medical reports are available on-line. the man is dying.

If anyone wants a cogent coherent take on the Scottish legal position see Jonathan Mitchell QC here - http://www.jonathanmitchell.info/2009/08/24/megrahis-release-kenny-macaskill-was-right/

You can criticise the law as being wrong (and that's an acceptable argument); you can criticise Mr MacAskill's pre-decision meeting with mr Megrahi (I have on my blog and feel that this procedural problem is substantial and unworthy of a ministerial office holder - http://loveandgarbage.livejournal.com/315121.html and http://loveandgarbage.livejournal.com/315455.html ); but on the decision itself in relation to the application for release on compassionate grounds Mr MacAskill applied the normal legal principles applicable in the Scottish legal system. It was a good faith decision - and while I do not share mr MacAskill's politics, it was I think the right one.

Arrnie said...

Is it not time someone questioned Prince Andrew? - is it not he who met with the Libyans - he has a reputation, has he not, for compromising the UK Government and its fragile Democracy in his endeavor abroad to increase inward Investment.