[On this date in 2009 The Sunday Times disclosed that Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Justice proposed to have a meeting with Abdelbaset Megrahi in the context of his application for compassionate release and the Libyan Government’s application for prisoner transfer. The article reads as follows:]
Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, is to become the first British government minister to meet the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.
MacAskill has agreed to visit Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi in prison before deciding if the Libyan should be allowed to serve the rest of his sentence in his home country.
The minister will announce later this month whether he will grant Libya's request for Megrahi to be placed in its custody under a transfer deal between London and Tripoli.
A condition of the treaty is that prisoners cannot leave the country while criminal proceedings are ongoing. Megrahi, 57, who has terminal prostate cancer, is believed to be prepared to drop his appeal against his conviction in order to spend the rest of his life close to his family in Libya. MacAskill also has the power to free him on compassionate grounds.
His decision to meet a convicted terrorist has provoked a backlash among American relatives of those who died in the 1988 bombing which killed 270 people. The justice secretary has said he wants to talk to all parties affected by the tragedy before deciding Megrahi's fate.
Bob Monetti, from New Jersey, whose 20-year-old son Rick was among the victims, accused MacAskill of giving the convicted murderer preferential treatment. "I don't understand why they would treat this man as special compared to everyone else who has been convicted of murder," he said.
[Commentary on the MacAskill visit to Megrahi can be found here.]