Thursday, 28 July 2011

Campaign group challenges Scots authorities on “duty of care” to Megrahi as Libyan regime changes

[This is the headline over a news item just published on the website of Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm. It reads as follows:]

The likelihood of rendition by US authorities of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi in the aftermath of the UK’s recognition of the former Libyan rebel forces as the new Government of Libya, has prompted the Justice for Megrahi campaign group to challenge the Scottish prison service, First Minister, Justice Minister and Lord Advocate to explain what commitments have been made to ensure his safety.

Megrahi remains a Scottish prisoner under licence to East Renfrewshire Council, to whom he reports back on a regular basis following his compassionate release.

“In light of the fact that Mr. Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi currently finds himself in a war zone, we wish to ascertain whether or not the Scottish Government, the Scottish Prison Service, Crown Office or other responsible Scottish authorities has any ongoing responsibility for his safety and care and if so what those commitments are?” said Robert Forrester, secretary of the Justice for Megrahi Committee.

“Has he been or will he be offered assistance or advice or the opportunity to return to Scotland, where his safety and medical requirements can be catered for in the company of his family until such time as the conflict in Libya has resolved itself?”

The letter warns of the “additional and very real threats” to Megrahi from the National Transitional Council of Libya, which Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed was now recognised as the official government of Libya by the UK

“To compound this, demands have been made over the past few months by American officials to arrest and retry Mr. al-Megrahi in the US. Clearly, having been tried and convicted under the arrangements laid down for the Kamp van Zeist trial, to which the United States agreed, Mr. al-Megrahi is still subject to Scottish jurisdiction. One assumes, therefore, that Scotland has a duty of care for the prisoner.”

Professor Robert Black QC has previously said that the United States has no locus or jurisdiction to retry Megrahi without applying for a resolution of the United Nations Security Council.

Proposals floated recently by US Senators and echoed in US media included sending in Navy SEAL "snatch squads" to kidnap and render Megrahi into US custody.

Black has previously warned that the US could "simply ignore international legality, as it did, with the UK's supine support, in launching the invasion of Iraq, and seize Megrahi by force, with or without the connivance of a new Libyan regime."

The Justice for Megrahi Committee have successfully lobbied the Holyrood Petitions Committee to refer their call for an inquiry into the entire Pan Am 103 debacle to the Justice Committee. The matter will be reviewed after the Parliamentary recess.

The letter can be read here.

1 comment:

  1. I really find the whole idea that the Scottish Authorities are some sort of Social Work Department alarming.

    The point is Megrahi is still a prisoner and is still under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Authorities. This isn't about offering safety only: it is also about dealing with clear threats from another country to seize Megrahi and try him again elsewhere.

    Robert Forrester says elsewhere on this blog that "this would be embarrassing". It would be a bit more than that Robert. It would be a breach of international law. The man was tried and convicted. The US relatives took the money and the negotiations involved their country signing up to the whole deal. They would not have any legal right to seize Megrahi. It is time Salmond made that clear and the UK Prime Minister should also make it clear. It is extremely worrying that the threats have been around so long with no official response from either. Megrahi must be brought back here until the Libya situation is resolved one way or another.