Sunday, 15 November 2009

From Sunday newspapers

This is becoming embarrassing – for Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. His problem is that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, is, at time of writing, still defiantly alive in Libya, when he was supposed to be dead by now. When MacAskill released Megrahi in the teeth of world opinion, it was under the humanitarian convention whereby prisoners with less than three months to live may be set free.

The problem for our Kenny is that Megrahi has not done the decent thing. This Friday will see the expiry of his supposed three-month maximum lease of life, but it looks likely he will not have shuffled off this mortal coil, as MacAskill assured us he would.

[The above are the first five sentences of an article in Scotland on Sunday by regular columnist and right wing ideologue Gerald Warner. For those who have the stomach for it, the remainder of his diatribe can be read here. The readers' comments that follow the article are worth reading even if the article itself is not. It is, of course, untrue to say that Kenny MacAskill assured us that Mr Megrahi would die within three months. What he said was that the medical reports submitted to him were to the effect that three months would be a reasonable estimate of his life expectancy.

The following are the first four paragraphs of an article headed "Scots outraged over bomber's release" on SFGate, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle.]

Do not believe that Scotland was united behind Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill's decision to grant "compassionate" release to the terminally ill convicted Pan Am 103 bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi in August.

When al-Megrahi flew home to a hero's welcome in Libya, Member of Scottish Parliament Richard Baker recalls "universal outrage" among Scots at the sight of Scotland's flag "being waved to welcome home the Lockerbie bomber in Tripoli. It just turned stomachs" - and produced among sensible Scots "profound shame and embarrassment."

Al-Megrahi was released after the former Libyan intelligence officer served a mere eight years in Scottish prison for his conviction for the 1988 airline bombing that killed 270 people, including 11 souls on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament in Holyrood voted 73-50 in favor of a measure that determined that MacAskill mishandled the decision. A poll conducted for the BBC found that 60 percent of Scots were opposed to al-Megrahi's early release and 32 percent supported it.

[As far as Scottish public opinion on the release is concerned, a more accurate picture than that given in the BBC's rogue poll can be found here and here.]


  1. Let us leave this midieval debate aside. Those people would surely also advocate the burning of assumed witches.
    I am still waiting for Mr. Marquise to answer my simple questions. Should we all really understand that you have no answers, Mr. Marquise?

  2. Mr Warner doesn't seem to have a good word to say about anybody. Is this what sells papers up there?

    Beyond the rant he made one good point, although it was none of Mr MacAskill's responsibility

    "allowing Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi sponsor of international terror, to call the tune on how the case would be prosecuted was the first huge mistake."

    Whatever the verdict in Camp Zeist I believe that creating a special tribunal to try a particular case was a huge mistake. It undermined Judicial Independence by further politicisng the case.

    I also suspect that the Scottish Judiciary's collective view coloured the verdict to make "Camp Zeist" an experiment never to be repeated.

  3. baz said: ...Whatever the verdict in Camp Zeist I believe that creating a special tribunal to try a particular case was a huge mistake. It undermined Judicial Independence by further politicisng the case."
    What would have been your choice?

  4. I used to take that paper, when I lived in England (can't get the Sunday Herald in England).

    I used to physically avert my eyes from the foam-flecked right-wing rantings that comprised Warner's weekly column. Not a word of that tirade surprised me. I'd have been disappointed if he'd said anything different.

  5. What was my choice - a good question! Firstly I do not think the question of prejudice was a valid one - British Courts have dealt with the issue of prejudice before. "Camp Zeist" allowed the US Justice Department, The Sunday Times and the sponsors of trash such as "The Maltese Double Cross" to let rip.

    It would also not be the first occassion when a defendent or defendents had been fitted-up but the Scottish Judicial system had a far better reputation in this regard than the English. Would a trial in Scotland have led to a worse result? It would have concentrated the prosecution case. The proponents of "Camp Zeist" didn't think the concept through particularly in respect to the attitude of the intensely conservative Judiciary .

    If Professor Black was concerned about the issue of prejudice being interviewed in a World in Action programme (Director John Ashton) broadcast on the eve of the trial where he predicted the verdict probably wasn't the smartest idea but he needed that "I told you so" moment for the subsequent acclaim..

    Professor Black claims the verdict was the worst miscarriage of justice in 100 years. It was also the first time a tribunal had been designed to hear a particular criminal case. I suspect the two may be related.

    Perhaps I have more faith in a jury although my own experience is in a jurisdiction where the authorities bug the jury room!

    My "choice" would have been an objective investigation in which the right defendents were brought to trial. In 1996 I pointed out to the Crown Office, the FBI, the PM (in response to his appeal)Mr Duff and Dr Swire who built the bomb and how, where and by whom it had been introduced. I suggested, indeed pleaded with the defence to pursue a particular line of enquiry which they did not do. (Due to developments subsequent to the verdict it is still a valid line of enquiry).

    If I was advising the Libyan Government I would have pointed out that the objective of the indictment was sanctions not a trial (I presume they already knew this) and holding-out for a special tribunal was not the way to go.

    If I had been advising the Libyan Government I would have considered the possibility of Mr Fhimah alone surrendering for trial.

    I would have advised the Libyans to pursue the matter through the ICJ.

    I would also have advised Mr Megrahi not to give an interview to former CIA officer Pierre Salinger!

  6. In 1996 I pointed out to the Crown Office, the FBI, the PM (in response to his appeal) Mr Duff and Dr Swire who built the bomb and how, where and by whom it had been introduced.

    Oh, go on! Do tell!

  7. I too would be very interested to learn the who, what, when, why, how etc of Baz's theory. Baz has teased us with hints that he knows what the rest of us don't know for some time now, on this and other websites. Come on, Baz, tell us "who built the bomb and how, where and by whom it had been introduced".

  8. Within the laws of libel I have published parts I-VII and part X of "The Masonic Verses" at

  9. "Baz has teased us with hints"!

    "Eddie - I am quite prepared to accept that it was one of Khreesat's devices that was introduced at Heathrow - indeed I suspect that it was and that it was brought to England on the Gothenburg Ferry. I suspect it may have been the device recovered in Neuss on the 26th Oct.1988. However I try to deal with what can be proven - that the primary suitcase was introduced at Heathrow".

    From my comment 4/11/09 on "Lost CCTV Tape".