[The following come from an article in this morning's edition of the Annandale Herald, Lockerbie's local weekly newspaper. It was published before Kenny MacAskill's decision was announced.]
Retired Scottish law professor Robert Black, who grew up in Lockerbie and was one of the architects of the original trial in the Netherlands, said he was sad Megrahi would “die a convicted man”.
Convinced Megrahi was wrongly convicted, he told the Herald and News: “If it is the case that Abdelbaset Megrahi is soon to be returned to Libya to die surrounded by his extended family, I will be delighted on simple humanitarian grounds. But I am sad he felt it necessary, for whatever reason, to abandon his appeal.
“However, I fully appreciate the state of his health is now so precarious that he is prepared to do anything, however unpalatable, that he thinks will improve his chances of repatriation within the shortest possible time scale.”
Professor Black said the time taken for the system to deal with Megrahi’s case was “a disgrace” and he now hoped for some sort of independent inquiry, whether Scottish, UK, European Union or United Nations, into “the whole sorry Lockerbie affair”.
He said: “There are those of us who will fight as hard as we can to secure that it happens.”
Retired teacher and trustee of Dryfesdale Lodge visitor centre John Gair said: “I was very sorry that he dropped his last appeal. There may be much more to be found out about it. There is still an element of doubt about this. I don’t know if we will ever know the real truth but it would have been nice to feel we really knew the truth about what happened.”
A Rosebank resident at the time of the disaster and member of the community liaison group, Maxwell Kerr said he could see both sides on the argument about Megrahi’s possible release: “I have spoken to people who said he should serve his time, that because he has been judged and punished in Scotland he should serve his sentence here. But there are others like Jim Swire and Robert Black who believe he is innocent. It is a difficult thing to answer and now we will have to wait and see what the justice minister says.”