Thursday, 20 August 2009

Lockerbie Bomber Freed

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi convicted of murdering 270 people on the Pan Am flight 103, has been freed from prison and sent back to Libya on compassionate grounds. On first hearing this news I was very opposed to his release, I was a child at the time of this terrible crime, yet I remember the pictures of the plane wreckage vividly.

Having however listened to Kenny McCaskill and researching into the trial, that opposition muddies somewhat. Being judged not by a jury but three judges, doesn't make me hold the conviction in high regard. Nor does the fact that this bombing couldn't have been carried out by just one person, yet no real investigation has been made or other people arrested. Something echoed by the victims families who attended the trial.

Clearly politics are also at play in this situation, the foreign secretary has issued a Public Information Immunity certificate on documents previously unseen, stating that to publish them would be to the detriment of UK national security. Which certainly adds to questioning the conviction and suggests bigger factors at work here.

Yet those doubts weren't what Kenny MacAskill spoke of in his statement, he said:
The perpetration of an atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold, and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live.
Reading through MacAskill statement in full he's also being political, yet that sentiment above I whole heartily agree with. We do not have capital punishment in this country, on evoking it justice became about punishment not revenge. There is doubt cast on the conviction, with it a possibility that this man is actually innocent, combined with the need to uphold our values for all, thus I think his release was the right decision. He has such little time left to live and his release demonstrates in action the values that we claim to support as a civilised society.

I wish his release however had triggered a long over due investigation for closure, yet perhaps his death will deliver those answers, along with a sense of justice for all the families who lost loved ones on that flight in 1988.

Update: There's an interesting interview in the Times with Ali al-Megrahi.

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