Sunday, 9 August 2009

Church of Scotland: free Lockerbie bomber

The Church of Scotland has intervened in the case of the Lockerbie bomber, urging the government to free the man convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity in British history.

The Kirk claims it is unchristian to keep Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, in jail and has urged Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, to free him on compassionate grounds.

Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk’s church and society council, appealed to the government after medical reports suggested the Libyan may only have weeks to live. His intervention comes just weeks before the justice minister is due to rule on the case.

“We have to continue to feel hugely for the families of those who died in the Lockerbie bombing. Nonetheless it would seem that the compassionate response would be to release Mr Megrahi to his family for the remaining days of his life,” said Galloway.

“The Christian faith places forgiveness and compassion close to its centre and while the justice system rightly always includes an element of punishment, in the current circumstances we have to be able to lay some of that aside.

“In other words, to err on the side of compassion and forgiveness is where on balance we believe society should seek to lean.” (...)

The intervention by the church, which has 600,000 members, will put pressure on MacAskill, whose decision to meet Megrahi was widely criticised and prompted accusations that the convicted terrorist was being given preferential treatment.

Megrahi’s supporters have grown hopeful that he will either be handed over to Libya or freed, believing it would be a severe embarrassment to the government if he were to die in a Scottish jail. Last week Jack Straw, the UK justice secretary, freed Ronnie Biggs, the Great Train Robber, on compassionate grounds after being told he is severely ill with pneumonia and is unlikely to recover.

MacAskill requested a new medical report on the condition of Megrahi, who has been advised by consultants that the disease is at an advanced stage.

A condition of the prisoner transfer treaty is that prisoners cannot leave the country while criminal proceedings are ongoing. The 57-year-old is believed to be prepared to drop his appeal against his conviction in order to spend the rest of his life close to his family in Libya. If, however, he is freed on compassionate grounds he could continue to pursue his appeal.

Last night American relatives of those who died criticised the Kirk’s intervention.

Bob Monetti of New Jersey, whose son Rick was among the victims of the bombing, said: “This is nonsense. This is the first word I have ever heard from the Church of Scotland in 21 years. They didn’t send us any condolences, they didn’t send us any support.

“The reason the United States has separation of church and state is because church people usually get it wrong. I’d like to be compassionate but this man may die next week or he may live 10 years.”

John Lamont, community safety spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “Unless we have compelling medical evidence suggesting release on the grounds of compassion is considered, justice requires that the sentence imposed is the sentence served, subject of course to Mr Megrahi’s ongoing appeal.”

A recent Cello MRUK poll for The Sunday Times indicated that while 49% of Scots wanted Megrahi to remain in Scotland, 40% thought he should serve the rest of his sentence in Libya and 11% said he should be freed.

[From an article by Jason Allardyce in the Scottish edition of The Sunday Times.

This story has been picked up by the Monday editions of a number of daily newspapers. The Scotsman's report can be read here; and the Daily Express's here.]



    Why many fmilies of the PanAm 103 victims and receivers of for each US$ 10millionen compensation, those truth and the revision of the wrong Scottish court decision which can be expected to favour Libyen' s and its Officials, Mr. Abdelbaset Al Megrahi prevent?
    And why the same people try the visit of the Leader of Libya and Chairman of AU, Moammar El Gaddafi with the UN to sabotage on 23 September 2009?

    After a positive revision of the judgement "NOT GUILTY" and to a truth explanation with the UN, the survivors can prove that they are fair humans. The paid off payment of damages of totally US$ 2.7 billion was otherwise the status "BLOOD MONEY" assume…

    Computer translation BABYLON german/english

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Switzerland

    MISSION LOCKERBIE: in German language

    Wieso wollen viele Hinterbliebne der PanAm 103 Opfer und Empfänger von je US$ 10millionen Schadenersatz, die zu erwartende Wahrheit und die Revision des falschen schottischen Gerichts-Urteils zu Gunsten Libyen's und ihres Officials, Mr. Abdelbaset Al Megrahi verhindern ? Und wieso versuchen die gleichen Leute den Besuch des Leader of Libya and Chairman of AU, Moammar El Gaddafi bei der UN, am 23. September 2009 zu sabotieren?

    Nach einer positiven Revision des Urteils "UNSCHULDIG" und einer Wahrheits-Erklärung bei der UN, können die Hinterbliebenen beweisen, dass sie gerechte Menschen sind. Der ausbezahlte Schadensersatz von total US$ 2,7 milliarden würde sonst den Status "Blutgeld" annehmen...

    by Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Switzerland

    Honest prisoner exchange:

    Mr Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, you can change the Greenock prison with Dr. Thomas Hayes und Allen Feraday (Experts RARDE) and minimum 3 well-known Scottish policy officers, guilty for having falsified and manipulated decisive evidences (MST-13 timer) etc. during the prosecution and must go 10 years into a Scottish prison. You are demonstrable not guilty, you are free to go!
    That would be Human right and Scottish justice...

    Mr. MacAskill, this is a rational solution before the revised judgement of the Scottish Appeal Justice in the Lockerbie case: "Mr Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, not guilty, the trial before was far from fair and proper"...

    more information on:

    Edwin and Mahnaz Bollier, MEBO Ltd., Switzerland

  3. The Lockerbie case: prisoner transfer or prisoner release?
    How to reconcile the requirements of the rule of law and the imperatives of humanity
    Interview of Dr. Hans Köchler, UN-appointed international observer at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands, for BBC Newsnight
    Vienna/ London, 6 August 2009

    In an interview with the BBC’s Glenn Campbell for the Newsnight programme, Dr. Hans Köchler has reiterated his call for compassionate release of Mr. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the only person convicted in the Lockerbie case. Unlike a prisoner transfer, this measure will allow the Lockerbie appeal to continue, which is in the interest not only of the appellant (Mr. Al Megrahi), but of all those, first and foremost the families of the victims, who are committed to the search for the truth and who want to find out which individuals and organizations were actually responsible for the midair explosion of flight Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie.

    Dr. Köchler made clear that he would not be in favour of the Scottish Justice Secretary granting compassionate release to Mr. Al Megrahi if he would not be convinced that the Libyan citizen is the victim of a miscarriage of justice and, thus, is not guilty as charged.

    He referred to his earlier reports on the trial and (first) appeal proceedings at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands in which he had explained that the judicial process was not fair and that the “Opinions of the Court” issued by the judges in 2001 and 2002 respectively were inconsistent and almost entirely based on – often dubious – circumstantial evidence.

    continuation on >>

  4. continuation:

    The dilemma now faced by Mr. Al Megrahi and the Scottish authorities would never have arisen if the judicial review had been carried out in a timely fashion, Dr. Köchler said. More than five years have elapsed between the end of the first appeal (in March 2002) and the decision by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) to refer Mr. Al Megrahi’s case back to the appeal court (in June 2007). More than two years (!) after the SCCRC decision, the second appeal is still in its incipient stage. The delaying tactics are obvious in the scheduling of the hearings (with intervals of several months between sessions) and in the appeal judges’ not replacing a colleague who has fallen ill, instead preferring to wait until his recovery some time in September. The appellant (Mr. Al Megrahi) who is reported to be in the last stage of a deadly illness is nonetheless confronted with the alternative of either giving up his second appeal (and return to Libya on the basis of the provisions of a “prisoner exchange agreement”) or eventually to die in a Scottish prison. This is a situation of “emotional blackmail” which is unacceptable, Dr. Köchler explained.
    In his conversation with the BBC’s Glenn Campbell, Dr. Koechler made clear that, unlike “prisoner exchange” on the basis of a recent bilateral agreement between the UK and Libya, “compassionate release” according to Scots law would not violate the international obligations of the United Kingdom resulting from the original arrangements for the trial and detention of the Lockerbie suspects. While in the former case, the remainder of the prison term would be served outside of Scotland (which would be in technical violation of the original commitment), in the latter case (“compassionate release”) the issue is not a change of place for serving a prison term, but a release from prison on humanitarian grounds. There is no provision in the relevant international agreement that excludes such a measure.
    Dr. Köchler said that it is absolutely essential that the appeal go ahead and that, by granting compassionate release, Scotland’s Justice Secretary can reconcile the requirements of the rule of law and the imperatives of humanity.
    Lockerbie observer mission of the International Progress Organization