[This is the heading over four readers' letters in today's edition of The Herald. They are all worth reading. Here are the first two:]
Senator Robert Menendez and his Committee have been supplied with written evidence about who took the decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, how it was taken and why (“US calls off Megrahi inquiry”, The Herald, July 29). The logical step would have been to scrutinise this material, to narrow down the issues and to focus on the matters over which there might be genuine uncertainty. If additional evidence was needed, witnesses could then have been asked for assistance – which might have been done by correspondence. To effectively abandon the inquiry at this stage shows that it never was a serious exercise.
The Senator shows that he has not briefed himself about the respective jurisdictions of the Scottish and UK Governments, he has not distinguished between compassionate release and prisoner transfer, and he doesn’t know about the differences between Scots Law and that of the US. Moreover, that he is deeply uninterested in these matters, because they do not fit his conspiracy theory about a BP plot to swap Megrahi for oil concessions from Libya.
He wanted witnesses to appear in person because this was meant to be a show trial of people over whom his Committee has no constitutional jurisdiction. He has vindicated the Scottish and UK ministers who declined his invitation.
(Dr) Bob Purdie,
Has it occurred to the US senators and others who maintain that Megrahi should have remained in prison, that if that had happened, his appeal would not have been withdrawn and would have been decided by now? Any rational examination of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) findings and the evidence as a whole must concede the overwhelming probability it would have been successful, and Megrahi would now be home by right as a free man. Kenny MacAskill may be prevented from “looking behind the appeal”, but the rest of us are under no such constraints, and the conclusion is not difficult to reach.
The notes of MacAskill’s meeting with Megrahi are now public, and reveal an unpleasant picture of a sick and desperate man being treated like a mushroom (kept in the dark and fed manure) in an attempt to pressurise him into dropping his appeal. The hand-written letter from Megrahi is really quite distressing, when read in the light of the SCCRC report and the striking weakness of the case against him in general. This is not someone who should have escaped on a technicality; this is an innocent man sitting in jail looking at a medical death sentence.
Our criminal justice system and we as a nation are guilty of a far worse crime than taking international relations and trade deals into account when releasing a foreign prisoner. We have convicted a man on evidence that, in my view, wouldn’t support the issuing of a parking ticket, imprisoned him 1,800 miles from home and family, and turned him into an international hate figure while he is in the terminal stages of aggressive prostate cancer.
If any wide-ranging inquiry is appropriate, surely this is the matter that should concern us, rather than silly conspiracy theories linking Megrahi’s release to the Gulf oil spill.