Who Let Abdel Baset al Megrahi Go?
Abdel Baset al Megrahi is a former Libyan intelligence officer.
On 31 January 2001, he was convicted, by a panel of Scottish Judges sitting in a special court at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands, of 270 counts of murder for his part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on 21 December 1988. Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment. Suffering from terminal prostate cancer, with less than three months to live, he was allowed to walk yesterday.
He returned as a hero to Tripoli to an enthusiastic crowd waving Scottish flags(lower right).
Who, then, are the Scots who let this mass killer walk?
They are Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, and Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice minister.
On 18-August, Salmond pre-endorsed MacAskill's decision, promising the Justice minister would
... take a decision shortly in the interests of justice ... I’m absolutely confident that if there’s one person in Scotland I trust to take the right decision for the right reasons it’s Kenny MacAskill .... The most important thing for all of us...is that the person taking that decision will do so on the basis of evidence he’s received and advice he’s received.Announcing the release, Justice Secretary MacAskill said the country’s justice system was based on both judgement and compassion. In a 20-minute statement explaining his decision, Mr MacAskill claimed releasing Megrahi was an expression of unique Scottish “values":
In Scotland we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people.That's crap.
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.
Let me explain myself.
In my book of justice, (as I have said), in an open and democratic society,
- There is no place for the death penalty.
- Absent the death penalty, there is no place for mercy and compassion for political assassins. Before last week, I thought that was self-evidently obvious for convicted terrorists.
In the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie and all 259 passengers and crew members were killed. Megrahi's original sentence was only 27 years. That's one year for every ten people he killed. When he walked, he had served eight years? One year for every 33 he killed?
Terrorists and political assassins should be sentenced to rot to death in prison. And that's what Abdel Baset al Megrahi was doing when he was released.