Friday, 29 July 2011

Should the Scottish government offer to bring al-Megrahi back to Scotland?

[This is the headline over an article by Robert Forrester published yesterday on the Newsnet Scotland website. It reads as follows:]

When Mr al-Megrahi was repatriated, he returned to Libya in a climate of ‘back to the oil business as usual’. Once the Arab uprisings of North Africa and the Middle East had taken hold in Libya, the US and other NATO members promptly rode roughshod over the UN and converted a civil war into one of international dimensions.

For months now, we have been hearing wholly unsubstantiated claims from Mr Abdel-Jalil, Chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya, that Mr al-Megrahi carried out the Lockerbie bombing. The only time Mr Abdel-Jalil has come close to producing any evidence on this score was on the 1st of April 2011 when he said he knew what he was claiming was true as Colonel Gaddafi had provided financial and legal assistance to Mr al-Megrahi whilst the latter was incarcerated in Scotland.

It seems that Mr Abdel-Jalil was a judge in his previous employ. If this is the standard of evidence he used to find acceptable in courts where he was presiding, one dreads to think how many miscarriages of justice he has been responsible for.

The NTC has now been recognised as the legitimate government of Libya by the US, France and now the UK. There is a strong likelihood that if members of the NTC lay their hands on Mr al-Megrahi, he may quickly find himself in possession of a one way ticket to the USA, with all the dire consequences that that could hold in store for him.

It hardly requires to be pointed out that if this were to occur, it would be deeply embarrassing to Scotland, its government and the Crown Office. In short, it would be a diplomatic disaster for Scotland. Now that the US and others have recognised the NTC as the legitimate government of Libya, the door will clearly be open for these countries to take a much more active role in bringing down Colonel Gaddafi, thus making Mr al-Megrahi's rendition to the US an ever more realistic proposition.

Mr al-Megrahi still falls under Scottish jurisdiction. He was convicted by the Kamp van Zeist Court under terms the US agreed to. In recent times, the US has demonstrated a complete disregard for the codes and conventions of international law to the extent that she has invaded countries, kidnapped and murdered individuals on foreign soil and transported 'undesirables' for the purposes of torture to locales where such practices are par of the course.

It is now of vital importance that the Scottish authorities at least offer Mr al-Megrahi an open door through which to escape his current circumstances if he wishes to do so, not least because so many profound doubts exist over his 2001 conviction.

Robert Forrester is the Secretary of the ‘Justice for Megrahi’ group


  1. "It is now of vital importance that the Scottish authorities at least offer Mr al-Megrahi an open door through which to escape his current circumstances if he wishes to do so, not least because so many profound doubts exist over his 2001 conviction."

    What a bizarre paragraph. Never mind an "open door through which to escape". Some of us have been pointing out since this debacle in Libya started that Megrahi should be called back immediately until the situation there is stable. He is still our prisoner, he is out on licence only and another country is currently threatening to take him and try him again elsewhere.

    I await a response from both Mr Salmond and Mr MacAskill on this very subject.

  2. What would happen if we demanded his recall and he replied "no"?

  3. It is unrealistic to expect that Mr Megrahi either would or could accept such an "open door" offer from the Scottish authorities.

  4. It isn't about an open door or offers to do anything Patrick. He is free on licence and still under Scottish jurisdiction. He is required to maintain contact with the authorities here and has done so since his release. In any case this isn't about making offers to anyone. Our First Minister and the UK Prime Minister should be warning the US that they cannot legally seize him. This needs to be said publicly and clearly. THAT is what is causing the problem, not Megrahi himself.

  5. I described the "open door" offer to Abdelbaset al-Megrahi advocated by Robert Forrester as unrealistic. It is also thoroughly impracticable: even if the Libyan government under bombardment by NATO were to agree, Megrahi would have to leave his family behind in Tripoli; he would have to travel by road to Tunisia, and then get a flight to Scotland; the Gaddafi Café would need to be reinstated for him at HMP Greenock; and, Libyan-equivalent standard medical treatment would have to be extended to him.

    Security, in light of the Cameron/Hague recognition of the NTC rebels this week and the killing of General Younis, is also a big concern.

    First Minister Salmond and Justice Secretary MacAskill can be expected to bin this idea PDQ: it ain't gonna happen, Jo G!

  6. Patrick as always you miss the point completely. I really can't be bothered going over it all again for you.