Sunday, 16 August 2009


When it was reported a few days ago that Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi was likely to be released on compassionate grounds, I felt immense pride in our government that we could show the world that here in Scotland, we do things differently, and we can recognise that to leave a man dying of prostate cancer, who has always protested his innocence, to die far from home and family is pointless; has nothing whatever to do with justice; and would represent no more than a final, spiteful act of retribution. In my mind, along with that of Jim Swire, whose daughter was a victim of the Lockerbie abomination, al-Megrahi was always innocent; nothing more than a manipulated pawn in a political game in which the American machine found it convenient to ostracise Libya.
That the US had, just a few months earlier, shot down an Iranian airliner seemed to matter not one jot. And Americans today still believe what they are fed by their own machine.
The original speculation of release on compassionate grounds would have meant that al-Megrahi's appeal could continue, and the new evidence from foreign parts could be heard. There was more than a chance, therefore, that his pleas of innocence might finally be vindicated - even if the likelihood is that it may have come too late for the man himself.
And so, when the news came that he was abandoning his appeal, a couple of days after he was visited by Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill, I felt cheated and let down. It's hard not to believe that somewhere along the line, the pressure not to have the potential embarrassment of the new evidence meant that somewhere, somebody had been 'got at' by the might of the machine.
It remains now to be seen whether al-Megrahi is finally released on compassionate grounds, or simply returned to Libya to serve out his last few days or weeks of sentence there, because he had dropped his appeal and, by doing so, become eligible for transfer. I still live in hope that, despite the venomous reaction of the United States of Indignant Retribution, we will choose to release him and show the world that the true face of compassion is alive and well, and living in Scotland.

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