Should the Lockerbie bomber be released?

August 13, 2009

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the former Libyan agent convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, seems likely to be released from prison and sent home on compassionate grounds.

The 57-year-old, who has terminal prostate cancer, is to be released imminently according to Frank Rubino, an American lawyer who worked on his defence team during his trial.

Megrahi was sentenced to life under Scottish law for blowing up a Pan Am airliner over the town of Lockerbie in Scotland as it flew to New York on Dec. 1988. All 259 passengers and crew and 11 people on the ground were killed.

Rubino told Sky television that he had been told that the Libyan would be allowed to go home “in the very near future.”

Libyan authorities have repeatedly lobbied for Megrahi’s release and have accepted responsibility for the bombing, agreeing to pay around 1.6 billion pounds to the families of victims. The relationship between Libya and the West is slowly improving and British defence contractors are expected to benefit from the pariah state’s return to the fold.

Victims’ families are split over reports of the bomber’s release from his Scottish jail cell.

Relatives of some of the British victims said they had never been convinced of Megrahi’s guilt and welcomed the reports of his potential release. Pamela Dix, whose brother died in the attack, told the BBC: “I am not absolutely convinced of Megrahi’s guilt nor of his innocence. We simply at this point do not know enough… to be able to make that judgment.”

Meanwhile, American relatives like Bert Ammerman, whose brother was killed on the flight, believe Megrahi should be left to serve out his life sentence in Scotland. “He should finish out his term in Scotland, pass away and then send him home in a casket.”

What do you think? Is it right that al-Megrahi should be sent home, or should he remain in prison despite his terminal illness?

Related blog: Should the Lockerbie bomber have been released?


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The guy is innocent. There are so many flaws in the investigation that led to his conviction. For example, the Maltese shop owner who had picked out al-Megrahi from an identity parade had already seen a picture of him in a newspaper days before he had to identify him.The families of the relatives on the flight cannot complain of misjustice when the libyan government had to make a huge payout to them in “compensation.” If they really wanted justice they would have pursued the fight to find out who really murdered their relatives.

Posted by LIBYANO | Report as abusive

Given the farcical nature of the trial and the pathetically weak engineered evidence against him, it seems only right that he should be released. Our energies should be focused on those responsible not political scapegoats.

Posted by Mark Smith | Report as abusive

All sympathy for the relatives of those killed in this terrible attack, including those in the Lockerbie.But if you were around at the time you’ll know what a weird series of events led eventually to the arrests.I could detail at least 4 anomalies but perhaps the most bizarre was, weeks after the initial search for clues had been abandoned, US investigators returned and – can you believe this? – went into a wood, in the snow, and, Lo, they found a bit of a bomb timer up a tree! And it just happened to be the (green coloured) bit that showed its source of manufacture; and so they could trace that to a Swiss armaments salesman who who wouldn’t be interviewed but said he clearly remembered the “man in the photo” being the man who had purchased a timer “like this” (brown colour!).What a farce.There was just no evidence against Megrahi who (if I remember rightly) had a travel agency in Malta where the suitcase with the bomb originated.And what a funny remark by Maggie T, the day after: “We must not jump to conclusions about whom might be responsible.”Early Al quaeda, or good way to discredit the PLA?Malc C

Posted by malc cochran | Report as abusive

I think most people realise that he was set upbecause Iran wasresponsible but no one wanted to tackle them.

Posted by joseph mckenna | Report as abusive

When this man was not allowed a fair trial with so much concocted evidence he should never have been sent to prison in the first place; he was merely a political pawn and sadly expendible, good for the Scottish National Party to release him.

Posted by John Kerr | Report as abusive

Terrorism stinks. Let’s have justice for the victims.Isn’t it time that the United States extradite their terrorists …like Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch?Do President’s Obama’s words really mean something?

Posted by Chunisingh | Report as abusive

you cannot let this man out of prison,after the grief he has caused to so many familys who have lost loved ones,ie daughters, sons husbands grandchildren the list goes on what are you thinking about theres people out fighting terroism getting killed in the line of action,isnt this a slap in the face of world politics

Posted by steven pezzone | Report as abusive

All of this presupposes that he actually IS the bomber?The evidence was mostly made up…..just like Iraq.

Posted by William Fletcher | Report as abusive

If Scotland lets him go home, put him on a drone aircraft and blow the aircraft up over Libya.

Posted by Frank Fiorelli | Report as abusive

It seems unfortunate that the issue of compassionate release has become tangled up with possible evidential flaws in the original trial. Whether he is guilty or not is irrelevant to the case for compassionate release.Al-Megrahy was tried under Scottish Law, which includes the concept of compassionate release for inmates close to death. If this was objectionable to the US administration at the time, then they should have pushed harder for the suspect to be tried under US Law. But we all know that if they had done that and succeeded, then Libya would never have yielded him up for trial. He would never have served any time in jail.The US administration should refrain from trying to change the rules of the game after it has been played, and from the common malady for US administrations of all political colours of trying to impose US principles of justice upon other countries’ legal systems.

Posted by ian Kemmish | Report as abusive

He bombed an AMERICAN jet… hence he should rot in AMERICAN prisons, where the idea of releasing a terrorist for “humanitarian” reasons goes against all of our core beliefs

Posted by Evan | Report as abusive

As I read these comments, some so full of anger and disgust, I can only reflect on the events of the past in our world. It should be a matter of faith rahter than “revenge and blame” or “hate and anger”. Mr. al-Megrahi chose his fate long ago, guilty or not. This man is only living out his part in this world. I can understand the anger and blame that can be held onto after loosing someone you love at the hand of violence. I lost a Brother in this way. It will rot your soul. So, when is enough, enough? How much violence, killing and hate must go on befor we, as a society, finally “get it”? There has been too much destruction in the name of God, greed, power and fear. Can anyone really believe God has anything to do with these events? God, in whatever religion, form or name, is Love. Isn’t it time to learn, believe and live this? Five simple rules to live by: Love, Peace, Truth, Non-Violence and Right Action; a win-win situation. Forgive and learn to Love yourself and in turn, Love and forgive your fellow human beings. It is said that “When the power of Love overcomes the Love of Power, the world will know peace”. Namaste

Posted by Katherine Irvin | Report as abusive

With all due respect to the Scottish people who are being credited with having great compassion, why release a criminal who showed no compassion for his victims nor has he repented or shown any compassion since to the families of his victims?He has served only eight years of a LIFE sentence and is being released because he supposedly only has 3 months left to live, but how much additional pain will the Scottish people in their great compassion bestow upon the families of all the victims when the killer survives beyond 3 months?

Posted by Jerry Kasten | Report as abusive

He was tried convicted and now has been released under Scottish Law.Looks like the US doesn’t like Scottish Law, so look out, it could be regime change for Scotland.All those whisky distilleries could be secretly hiding wmd … in fact, come to think of it …

Posted by JayBridge | Report as abusive

Who cares only those who havew been directly affected. I pitty them because all those human rights that have been fought for through so many deaths are being rejuvinated by all those who think that his one suffering is made better by all those KILLED. Proof is all you’re flawed proof advocist need to supply prove it.

Posted by Braam | Report as abusive

I and my friends are so disappointed in the justice system in Scotland. How can this prisoner, sentenced to life, be released? How utterly absured!!

Posted by Gary Brockhouse | Report as abusive

Should one classify reactions al-Megrahi’s release as HEATHENISTIC, ETHEISTIC, or CHRISTIAN?

Posted by Lynn Turner | Report as abusive

While the Americans are bleating about one Libyan who may yet have succeeded at appeal they conveniently forget about Lt Calley. After appeal his sentenced was reduced to 20 years, he was eventually confined for 3 1/2 years under house arrest.Nobody was bleating about justice when he was released.

Posted by Chris Horgan | Report as abusive

I think the number of people baying for blood is just alarming. Kill him, let him rot in jail ect ect.I wouldn’t have liked to make the call but, it does seem to me the right thing to do.To those who have said that he should have stayed in prison and faught to prove his innocence let me ask, would you have stayed in jail on principal or take the chance of being released?Americans are now saying they will boycotte Scotland and or Scottish goods, well let them, don’t really care.Just remember that you used to allow Irish terrorists into America to spout thier vile hatered and raise money to send British troops home in body bags. So put your own house in order before dumping on anyone else.

Posted by Graham | Report as abusive