This afternoon at 1.25pm, the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny Macaskill announced that the sole person convicted of the bombing of PanAm flight 103 on 21 December 1988 is to be released from prison at Greenock on compassionate grounds. The bombing killed 270 people, both on the plane and on the ground in the town of Lockerbie, a small town in southern Scotland, some 60 miles southeast of Glasgow.
The finger of blame very quickly pointed at Libya, and it took 14 years for a man to be put on trial and convicted. The trial took place at Camp Zeist, Holland, but was, formally speaking, in a Scottish court. Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was sentenced to life in jail, with a recommendation he serve at least 27 years.
A prisoner transfer was applied for between the UK and Libya, but actually rejected. Megrahi was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which was deemed to be terminal with a life expectance of about 3 months at the beginning of August. It is for that reason that he has been released.
Kenny Macaskill said he was aware of the pain and deep wounds and scars left by the Lockerbie bombing, but felt that compassion, although denied to Megrahi's victims, should be afforded to all prisoners, irrespective of their length of sentence.
As I type this, it is reported that Megrahi will be welcomed on arrival at Tripoli by Libya's leader, Col Gadaffi.
I support Mr Macaskill's view that compassion and mercy should be shown. I also support the victim's relatives views that justice may not have been shown to be served and that Megrahi should have served the rest of his life in prison.