Saturday, August 22, 2009

US fury grows over release of Lockerbie bomber.

I must admit to utter confusion as to what to think over this Lockerbie case. It's not something which I have followed with any great interest, but I was always aware that Nelson Mandela felt strongly enough about it that he travelled to Glasgow to plead for a fresh trial for Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.

During his visit to the jail on June 10, Mr Mandela called for Megrahi to be given a fresh appeal and for him to be transferred to a Muslim country.

In Glasgow, the statesman described in detail how a four-judge commission from the Organisation of African Unity had criticised the basis by which Megrahi came to be convicted at a special Scottish court, sitting in the Netherlands, in 2001.

"They have criticised it fiercely, and it will be a pity if no court reviews the case itself," he said.

Mr Mandela said it had been suggested that the case could go either to the Privy Council or the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

"From the point of view of fundamental principles of natural law, it would be fair if he is given a chance to appeal either to the Privy Council or the European Court of Human Rights," said Mr Mandela.

And now I read that Obama has been outraged by the scenes in Tripoli which have greeted this man's return.
The White House last night vented its fury over the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber when it described the triumphalist scenes greeting his homecoming at Tripoli airport as "outrageous and disgusting".
The only thing which appears obvious is that perhaps it is the fact that this man has been released on compassionate grounds which is sparking American outrage. Mandela, as far as I can gather, felt that the conviction itself was unsound. If Megrahi had been released after a retrial, then I assume people would be more willing to accept that some kind of injustice had taken place when he was convicted.
But in an interview from his home in Tripoli yesterday Meghrahi denied he was responsible for the Lockerbie bombing. He said that before he died he would present fresh evidence through his Scottish lawyers that would exonerate him. "My message to the British and Scottish communities is that I will put out the evidence and ask them to be the jury," he told the Times, but he declined to elaborate. He also denied that Libya was responsible for the atrocity.
I'm ashamed to say that I haven't been following this case at all closely. But, when Obama and Mandela find themselves on the opposite side of the fence on an issue like this, it really makes me wish that I had been paying more attention.

Click title for full article.


daveawayfromhome said...

People seem to be completely missing the whole point of "compassionate" release, which is that those holding Meghrahi have compassion, not Meghrahi himself. This is true regardless of Megrahi's innocence or guilt.
If you listen to the Americans who comment on this case, nobody ever entertains the idea that there may have been a problem with the trial, it's all vengeance vengeance vengeance. As far as they're concerned, a quick trial in the heat of mourning is enough proof for them of his guilt.
Naturally, the Libyans (who are the other side of the same coin of thinking that Americans seems to use) take the opposite view, that because he says he's not guilty, he's the victim of a devilish Western conspiracy. So of course he gets a hero's welcome - he's escaped! Hooray!

Whatever. The point of compassion is that it's required by those bestowing it, not the ones recieving it.

Kel said...

The strangest thing about listening to the victims families in this case is that the Scottish families all believe that some kind of miscarriage of justice has taken place, whilst the Americans want to lock him up forever.

And I utterly agree with your point on compassion. Letting someone out of prison when they have a terminal illness says a lot about the compassion of the jailers, not of the person jailed.