The compassionate release of terminally ill Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, and weak political parties in the UK vying for support in a climate of ill-confidence in our MP’s, has combined to cause controversy over a decision that otherwise, should only have raised controversy of a marginal and brief kind.
There are obvious and various reasons as to why controversy has arisen, but the convictions against al-Megrahi have even come into question this week, with reports finding that he may well be a victim of a miscarriage of justice.
These reports – from his appeal against conviction – could be made public later this week.
In any case, this is a dying man – released on perfectly legal grounds – and also a man charged on the basis of very limited and fallible evidence (al-Megrahi was never linked to the bombing, nor was any evidence provided that he handled any explosives) where the prosecution’s star witness even had their credibility heavily questioned, amongst a spate of conspiracy theories.
Furthermore, Libya’s acceptance of their role in this tragedy saw them pay out millions in compensation, suffer years of trade and travel restrictions, and may have dictated to their government that pacifism and cooperation would ease these crippling sanctions.
The case against Libya and al-Megrahi is certainly poor and what’s more, is that the controversy surrounding his release simply ignores the fact that Scottish law dictates that a prisoner within 3 months of his death should be released, no matter his crime or guilt. Insisting that he die like an animal suffering in a jail cell surely brings those who believe in this kind of justice down to the level that they also seem to think al-Megrahi is on.
The US’s cries of outrage are even more hypocritical – a massacre of men, women and children by US troops during the Vietnam war saw the guilty Lt William Calley serve only 2 weeks of his sentence in prison, before he was released on house arrest. 40 years after this shameful event, he has finally publicly apologised.
Above all of this, the outcry over al-Megrahi’s release further serves to show how our own morality dissolves when we are asked to judge someone that we see as committing a heinous crime. At the end of the day, al-Megrahi will die as the human being that he is, and our MP’s will be further exposed as politically weak.