Al-Megrahi and a thousand and one uses for a devolutionary settlement..?

There is speculation that the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is set to release the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi this afternoon. For all the US pressure, David Blair in today’s Daily Telegraph is in no doubt where the UK national interest lies:

Libya, under the newly pragmatic rule of Col Muammar Gaddafi, has become an important ally, ideally placed to help us combat terrorism and nuclear proliferation – the two biggest threats to British national security. So keeping Libya happy matters a great deal, particularly as the country also possesses 42 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and a similar abundance of natural gas. Thanks to our new friendship with Libya, BP’s biggest exploration project in the world is now under way inside Col Gaddafi’s domain.

Britain needs to make sure that nothing interferes with what diplomats call “our bilateral relationship” with Libya. If that means sending one 57-year-old prisoner back to his homeland, particularly if he happens to be terminally ill – so allowing him to be released on “compassionate grounds” – then so be it.

Adds: Will has more on the purer argument about compassion… Splintered Sunrise has a particularly interesting take on the role devolution is playing in these particular mechanics:

The beauty of this is that, as the media, American politicians and victims’ families get het up, it’s the SNP that’s going to take the hit for a situation not at all of their making. The Westminster government has washed its hands of the matter, and the O’Bama administration, which has no responsibility in the matter, can throw as many hardline shapes as it likes without affecting the outcome. We can rest assured that, whatever the huffing and puffing in London and Washington, nothing will be done to seriously affect relations with our new friend Gaddafi.

Brian Taylor at BBC Scotland notes that…

…in one respect at least, the interests of the United Kingdom government and security services have already been served by the ending of the Megrahi appeal. London does not want the disclosure of further documents relating to the case, as demanded by Megrahi’s legal team.

An end that was, we might speculate, contingent upon the man’s release today. And, perhaps, Lord Mandleson’s untimely visit to meet Gaddafi’s son. Well, maybe. At least all of it is in line with Blair’s (or rather the FCO’s) view that the release is in the UK‘s national interest.

Love and Garbage has a strong post questioning the fitness of MacAskill to be Justice Secretary… But Jeff actually thinks it has been one of the few cases where a minister has steeled his nerve to make an unpopular decision:

Kenny MacAskill was focussed throughout. The media, Westminster, the victims of the atrocity, US Senators and even the Secretary of State had their say, generally pleading with the Justice Secretary to keep Megrahi behind bars, but the decision was clearly Kenny’s own and the rather ludicrous quantity of news on the matter seemingly didn’t rush his decision.

Of course this is all speculation. It could just be, as the Peat Worrier says, about the quality of mercy just not being strained

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  • Jo

    I can understand the hurt expressed by relatives of the victims but was reminded of the Michael Longley lines:

    “I get down on my knees and do what must be done
    And kiss Achilles’ hand, the killer of my son”

    We are better then those that blow people out of the skies and this man’s repatriation to die is an eloquent, if painful way, to express this.

  • Funny how the British government insisted Megrahi drop his appeal before they would send him home, the more so as most independent legal observers seem to believe the appeal would find in his favor.

    That Megrahi’s homecoming is due solely to a Scottish decision is pure fiction as any fool knows. I feel for the families, for without Megrahi appeal, they are unlikely to learn the truth of why their loved ones were so violently and heartlessly murdered.

  • “Gordon Brown and his Socialist Government”

    What world do you live in, if your mopery were not bad enough, your belief Brown runs a socialist government tells me you must be living on a parallel planet. If not, get help, the NHS is first class, unlike the US health care system.

  • sinless

    “We are better then those that blow people out of the skies and this man’s repatriation to die is an eloquent, if painful way, to express this.”

    This obviously excludes the Italians who committed the most despicable crimes against the Libyans.
    Has Britain or the USA ever killed innocent civilians? have they ever shot down planes in, say, Iran, or South Koreans planes?
    What is the latest “collateral damage” toll from the crininal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The Brits (public opinion) are even against leaving Ronnie Biggs out.

    When you speak of British morality, I say: pass the puke bucket.

  • fin

    Private Eye covered this in great detail, his appeal should continue to the end regardless.

    Jo –
    “We are better then those that blow people out of the skies”

    one theory is that the bombing was in response to the USA er blowing an Iranian passenger jet out of the sky. Speaking of blowing up planes have the USA handed over the guy wanted for blowing a Cuban airliner out of the sky yet

  • michael

    “Speaking of blowing up planes have the USA handed over the guy wanted for blowing a Cuban airliner out of the sky yet ”

    Still holding the 5 guys who were keeping tabs on him too.

    Good mass murderers
    Bad mass murderers

  • Jo

    People can normally be expected to treat their friends well.

    It takes something more to treat your enemy well.

  • 6countyprod

    Sort of go along with Jo, although it makes you want to throw up!

    Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “Our justice system demands that judgment be imposed but compassion available, our beliefs dictate that justice be served but mercy be shown.”

    “Scotland will forever remember the crime that has been perpetrated against our people and those from many other lands. The pain and suffering will remain forever. Some hurt can never heal. Some scars can never fade.”

    He added, “However, Mr. al Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule. It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die.”

  • Padraig

    The illegal, terrorist invasion of Iraq makes ME want to throw up.

  • RepublicanStones

    Fin I believe the US servicemen who blew the Iranian passenger jet out of the sky recieved medals upon their return home.

    MacAskill had an difficult decision to make, but i thought it funny the way he kept referring to the fact the PTA came into force was because of the Parliament to the south, naming Straw in particular, may have been an effort to offset some of the bile no doubt headed in his direction.

  • Jo

    Why thank u, 6cp. 🙂

    I hadn’t heard Mr MacAskill’s comments when I postted, but having heard them and seen him, I stand by what I said and what he said.

    Besides other (moral and political) issues, it is an example of Scottish autonomy. As with our own conflict, there are variations in the views of those affected by violence.

    But what is more impressive?

    What is more hopeful?

    – a call for bloody revenge or a call for *no retaliation* or indeed, forgiveness.

    I have debated this for a long time now, but remain convinced that it is better for all, including those directly affected, to forgive and to show a humanity – yeah, even to those who showed none. It is easy to be kind and good to kind and good people.

  • Long Dan Sweeney

    The word is that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine blew up the plane at the request of the Syrians following the Americans shooting down an Iranian Airliner.

    However this reality was deliberately ignored when George Bush Snr needed Syrian airspace for his attack on Iraq.

    Hence the switch to that other bad guy Gaddafi. It would appear that this guy (who may have done other things as an intelligence officer for his government) was sacrificed. The payback now that he is apparently about to die, being that he is being repatriated. He must have been leaned on very heavily by the brits and the americans to drop his appeal which would have opened the whole can of worms


  • Jo

    “bad guys” “good guys”: I had thought once upon a time that blogging would release us from such stereotypes, such conditioned thinking.

  • Framer

    MacAskill made the decision because he had the power to do it and it was one London would not have made.

    Ergo he had to release. He is a Scottish nationalist.

    Where does compassion start – a bit of pain; difficulty walking; a coma?

    Reading the nedical reports it is plain Megrahi is a spoofer and will probably last years.

    If he is alive in December can we ask for him back?

  • Mick Fealty

    Word? Medical reports? Good stuff lads, but some links would be helpful so the rest of us could judge for ourselves!

  • Jo

    Its understandable that some might baulk at the possibility of dubious medical reports etc, given the plain deception of the Ernest Saunders case, but the reports in the Lockerbie case are from prison doctors.