Friday, 25 November 2011

US bid to extradite Lockerbie bomber raises prospect of David and Goliath battle between Washington and Scottish local council

[This the headline over a report in today's edition of the Daily Mail.  It reads in part:]

US efforts to extradite the Lockerbie bomber face an unlikely challenge - from a local council in Scotland. 

A transatlantic legal clash between Washington and East Renfrewshire Council could scupper efforts to bring Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi before an American court. 

Earlier this month, the Scottish Daily Mail revealed the US government had begun legal moves to extradite 59-year-old Megrahi, who is suffering from prostate cancer and may not have long to live.

But yesterday it emerged that East Renfrewshire Council – which has responsibility for ensuring Megrahi does not breach his licence conditions following his release from Greenock Prison more than two years ago – is likely to challenge the move.

A spokesman for East Renfrewshire said Megrahi would breach his licence conditions if he disappeared from his Tripoli home and was no longer easily contactable.

His comments raised the prospect of a David and Goliath battle between the council and the American authorities. 

The spokesman said: 'It would be treated in the same way as anyone else in this position – if they are no longer at the address we have for them, then there could be a breach. 

'That would be referred to the Parole Board for Scotland and they would decide how to deal with it.'

If Megrahi were extradited, he would no longer be at his Tripoli residence, where East Renfrewshire Council officials are required by law to contact him periodically, thus triggering a breach of his licence. (...)

Last night, legal expert Professor Robert Black, who believes Megrahi is innocent, said: 'I don’t think the US government would be worried in the slightest about the licence breach.

'It has never concerned itself with international legality and never will. Quite simply, if America thinks it’s right, it’s right – it does what it wants and won’t care about legal issues.

'But if a US extradition was attempted which caused a breach of his licence conditions, then the UK Government should act.

'The Foreign Office should intervene – but, of course, with the "special relationship", it’s unlikely that will happen. 

'It’s far more likely that the UK Government wouldn’t say anything about it. That would be disgraceful.'

The National Transitional Council in Libya has said it 'doesn't care' what happens to Megrahi. Last night, a US State Department source said there were communications concerning Megrahi with Libyan officials.

The US source added that the capture in the past few days of Gaddafi's son Saif and of Abdullah al-Sanussi, former Libyan chief of internal security, had powerful implications for Megrahi's future. Both are set to stand trial in Libya.

A Scottish Government spokesman said it did not comment on hypothetical scenarios but added: 'Scotland’s Justice Secretary granted compassionate release to Megrahi according to the due process of Scots Law.

'The fact remains that Megrahi has a  terminal illness, is an extremely sick man dying of prostate cancer and continues to abide by the terms of his release licence. 

'There has been no breach of licence conditions and therefore the issue of recall does not arise.'


  1. Megrahi...

    Wasn't he the guy who was "in a coma and near death", oh, about 3 months ago...and isn't going on 37 months since his first "weeks to live" diagnosis?

    Anyone still up for that bet that Megrahi will remain alive through (at least) the end of the year?

    Hmmmm...could it be that the Scottish Executive LIED about the severity of Megrahi's condition?

    Oh, yeah..."freed on compassionate release under the 'blah, blah, blah...'"

    I have seen people speak bullshit in 9 different languages. Though it sounded prettiest in French, it still smelled the same...your government lied about Megrahi's condition...or it's a Festivus Miracle!

  2. Incredible that Salmond remains silent on this issue given all he had to say to certain senators last year about the US having no jurisdiction whatsoever in this matter and telling them to butt out. This issue is about more than a Scottish Council V the US: the US signed up to Megrahi being tried under Scots Law and the man is not their prisoner. I take on board what you say Prof B about international law and the US however the fact remains that the Scottish Government and the UK Government for that matter should be telling them in no uncertain terms that the original agreement stands and there is no way around that.

    Michael when it comes to bullshit, no one quite does it like the United States of America.

    And I'm sure no one would deny the Scottish Government lied about a lot of things over Megrahi. The UK Government have done the same. Do you think for one minute that the US isn't aware of the real reason for those lies? That they weren't in on it? The big reason for releasing him was to get him freed without the Appeal being heard. The BIG issue was his appeal which had been delayed for over two years already and could not be delayed much longer. For if it was finally heard his conviction looked like being quashed. He'd have gone home then all right: as an innnocent man! And the UK and the US wouldn't have wanted that now, would they?

  3. Hi Michael!

    No-one seems to disagree with you that there might have been more to Megrahi's release than compassion. So, let's move on!

    I still like to know about your view on what has surfaced since the trial.

    How do you e.g. feel about the fact that a man who did not do anything else than being contacted by the police and giving statements, finally in trial, receives 2M USD in secrecy from your government?

    Would you think that this also would have happened - just out of courtesy, I assume - if he in court would have said "This was not the man who bought clothes"?

  4. I have removed a comment because it did not relate to the Lockerbie case.