I haven’t done too much “serious” posting recently but I’ve been involved in discussion elsewhere on the stushie currently going on in Scotland over the status of the “Lockerbie Bomber” Abdel Basset Ali Al Megrahi who is currently serving his sentence in Greenock Prison. In July the Libyan Government applied to have Megrahi transferred to Libya under the prisoner transfer scheme agreed between Colonel Gadaffi and Tony Blair in 2004. For this course of action to succeed, any outstanding legal impediment would have to be withdrawn. In Megrahi’s case there were two such impediments, firstly the convicted bomber’s second appeal against his conviction and secondly the crown’s own appeal to have the sentence increased. Megrahi made an application to have his appeal withdrawn and this was granted yesterday.It has been suggested that the Crown will drop its appeal in the near future.
Megrahi’s legal team meanwhile, funded by the Libyan government, made a quite separate application for their client to be released on compassionate grounds as he is suffering from terminal prostate cancer. For such a process to succeed would take only the decision of the Scottish government via its justice minister Kenny MacAskill. MacAskill took the unprecedented step of visiting Megrahi in Greenock Prison as part of his decision making process. There is hardly anyone with an opinion to offer that does not believe that MacAskill offered Megrahi a deal i.e. ‘drop your appeal and we’ll release you’. Those putting this theory forward say that the Scottish Government and therefore legal system could breathe a sigh of relief and draw a line under the whole Lockerbie affair.
MacAskill and his party leader Salmond insist there is no deal. The media and any legal people I know scoff at this and say that no legal team would drop an appeal unless they had been given an absolute guarantee of release.
I simply don’t know.
I have taken the following quote from Professor Robert Black’s blog about Lockerbie
“Mr Salmond insisted no decision had been made and issued a strong vote of confidence in the justice secretary, who has been under fire over the past week for his handling of the issue, following leaks suggesting Megrahi is to be released.
Mr Salmond said: “I can also say that a final decision has not been taken by the justice secretary – he only received his final advice at the weekend. I’m absolutely confident if there is one person in Scotland I would absolutely trust to make the right decision for the right reasons, it’s Kenny MacAskill.”
He also tried to quash suggestions that the dropping of Megrahi’s appeal had anything to do with a meeting between the convicted bomber and Mr MacAskill.
“What I can say is, the Scottish Government had no interest whatsoever in Mr Megrahi dropping his appeal,” he said.”
Which begs the question:
Are all the opposition parties, the media and legal insiders wrong? or are they right which would make Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill bare faced liars?
Leaving aside the innocence or guilt of Megrahi, the rights and wrongs of release and the opinion of victims’ families, this is what the current news story boils down to.
What are we to think?