Lockerbie bomber goes free

Posted on September 1, 2009

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The political drama surrounding the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi rumbles on and shows now sign of abating. Despite its best attempts to portray the decision as one for which the Scottish government should accept total responsibility, Downing Street has now been called upon to deny that his release had anything to do with a prospective trade deal between the two countries.

I, like many, have my doubts as to whether or not al-Megrahi is in fact the one responsible for the reprehensible events of 1988. There are many that share these doubts. What is clear, however, is that he was found guilty, and therefore must be treated as a guilty man. To release him after serving so little of his sentence so he can die in his own country seems to me a slur on the memories of those he was found guilty of murdering.

The reaction of our government is equally as disappointing as the decision by the Scots to release him. In attempting to avoid responsibility for the decision and refusing to express agreement or disagreement, Brown and Shaw have acted in a cowardly manner that does not befit their positions. It could be that this is all a ploy to discredit the Scottish Nationalist Party. If so, politicising such a matter is shameful in the extreme. To suggest that anyone involved in this decision was unaware of the welcome al-Megrahi would receive in Libya is frankly absurd. Libya may now be considered ‘friendly’, but for years Colonel Gaddafi has been a tyrant who supported terrorist efforts abroad. The return of Libya’s most famous export only serves to increase his prestige on the 40th anniversary of his rise to power, and further cover up the shameful human rights abuses of which he is guilty.

I hate, in most circumstances, being on the same political side of David Cameron. Here, though, I agree that the release is “completely nonsensical”. Not because I do not believe in compassion, and not because I fear the disapproval of the Americans, who I feel long ago forfeited any right to the moral high ground. It is because I fear that this decision was motivated in part by the lingering feeling that the bomber was in fact innocent. Though I myself have my doubts, other means should have been pursued of securing his release by those who share them. I also regret any continuing appeasement of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime, which may now be considered ‘friendly’ to Western interests but is certainly not considered to be so by many Libyans.

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Posted in: Politics