[This is the heading over a letter from Iain A D Mann in today's edition of The Herald. It reads as follows:]
Lord George Foulkes suggests that, if or when Colonel Gaddafi is deposed, the convicted terrorist bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi should be brought back from Libya to resume his sentence in Scotland (“Take Megrahi back to face Scottish jail”, The Herald, August 16).
I’m sure that is the last thing the Scottish judicial system and both the Scottish and UK governments would want, as it would re-open all the doubts and debate about the original trial and conviction.
If the journey didn’t kill Megrahi, I doubt if he would last long in a Scottish prison cell. But if he did survive could he be prevented from re-opening his second appeal, which was mysteriously dropped and for which no official explanation has ever been given? Was his defence counsel Maggie Scott, QC, consulted before he made his decision? We have never been told.
The authorities assured us that Megrahi’s release on compassionate grounds was not dependent on his dropping the appeal. But there has always been a strong suspicion that the two were somehow related, especially after Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill’s visit to meet him in Greenock Prison.
One theory is that the Government and some people in the Scottish justice system feared the second appeal would have been upheld, on one or more of the six grounds for serious doubt about the Camp Zeist conviction identified by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.
There is also the possibility that he might seek to take his case to the UK Supreme Court, now that court has assumed the final right to adjudicate on Scottish criminal cases. [RB: The UK Supreme Court has this right only where the criminal case in question raises a devolution issue, which includes an alleged breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.] Unlike in England, this would not require the prior permission of our highest appeal court.
All in all, returning Megrahi to Scotland would do nothing but open up a nasty can of worms.
Better for all concerned if stones are left unturned, and Megrahi remains in Libya for whatever time he has left.