Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Salmond defends the early release of Megrahi

The head of Scotland's government said Wednesday that he stands by his country's decision a year ago to release a man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing from prison on compassionate grounds despite new questions about his prognosis.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said in an interview with The Associated Press that "everything we've done on the Lockerbie case over the last 20 years...has been done following the precepts of Scottish jurisdiction and Scots law." (...)

He said his government clearly stated, in announcing its decision to release al-Megrahi, that "this is an estimate, that Mr Megrahi may live shorter than three months, he may live longer than three months."

"Everybody knows from their own experience of friends and family that it's extraordinarily difficult to be precise over the exact term of life of somebody with a terminal illness," Salmond said. "Our doctors made a reasonable estimate at the time, and our ministers followed that medical advice."

He spoke to the AP in Oslo, Norway, where he was attending bilateral meetings on economic and energy ties between Scotland and the oil-rich Nordic country.

Scotland will not seek the return of al-Megrahi, Salmond said, noting that, in past instances, prisoners released on compassionate grounds were not returned to prison even if they lived longer than expected.

Last week, four Democratic US senators — Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, of New York, and Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, of New Jersey — sent a letter to Salmond asking that al-Megrahi's full medical records be disclosed. (...)

"Clearly, we've made the point that the Scottish not answerable to the United States Senate, nor is the American government answerable to the Scottish Parliament," Salmond said. "But we've tried to co-operate to answer all of the questions."

He said he'd responded to the letter, but that there was no more information to share since Scotland has "already published, and did last year, all relevant information because we have nothing to fear from the scrutiny and from the examination of anybody, domestically or internationally."

"The point I've made is that there's only one medical report" that informed Scotland's decision, he said.

That report — by Scottish Prison Service's medical chief, Andrew Fraser — shows Fraser was advised by four specialists at the time of al-Megrahi's release. The report describes the three-month prognosis for al-Megrahi as "reasonable," but confirms that none of those consulted ruled out that al-Megrahi might live longer.

Salmond categorically denied allegations that any outside influence — such as claims that oil giant BP pressured Scotland to free al-Megrahi so it could win access to Libyan oil reserves — affected Scotland's decision.

[From a report by The Associated Press news agency on the website of The Canadian Press.]


  1. Salmond, the first minister of oil-rich Scotland, is in the 'oil-rich Nordic country' commenting on US interest in trying to connect BP (who were drilling in their waters for oil) to Megrahi's release because they thought this was part of them being allowed to drill for oil in Libyan's waters, and meantime Iran, the other oil-rich country is the reason the whole Megrahi affair is a mess in the first place because the US (did I say they had oil?) needed to keep them on-side because they were attacking the oil-rich country of Iraq who had invaded the oil-rich country of Kuwait. Some people are insinuating this is all about oil...

  2. "Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said in an interview with The Associated Press that "everything we've done on the Lockerbie case over the last 20 years...has been done following the precepts of Scottish jurisdiction and Scots law."

    He's at it again, justifying all of it. I really wish he would stop doing this. If Scots law had been followed during the trial there wouldn't have been a conviction.

  3. Well said Jo G

    Do you think if the farce that was the trial had had a proper jury instead of three puffed up legal gents with false names, any of this would have happened. The case would have been dismissed on a majority verdict,

    See: adifferentviewoflockerbie.blogspot,com

  4. Sorry to disagree Charles. A respectable judge, like a senior Edinburgh Sheriff I spoke to and told me so, would have accepted a submission on behalf of both accused that they had no case to answer and the case would not have gone to the jury.

  5. Are you thus saying Ewan it was a political trial. Suppose the three judges had decided there was no case to answer in he first instance, acting in their capacity as a judge of law and not of fact?

  6. I think it has to have been, ultimately, a political trial Charles. The outcome proved that. There is no other possibility.

    We've mentioned before the reasons for not having a jury: these were based on getting, ironically, a fair trial. It was thought ordinary Scots had been saturated with information about the atrocity itself, about the accused and would not be able to remain impartial.

    The trial with judges only was about learned, legal people being professional and detached enough to consider only the evidence and nothing else.

    And we even had the Lord Advocate attempting to assist the prosecution in withholding evidence from the defence. Its all recorded. And getting found out! Yet not a hint of a slap on the wrist was administered for such serious misconduct.

    Perhaps David Benson can do another play next year about the trial.