What follows is an item posted on this blog just before noon on this date in 2009.
Application for compassionate release
I understand from an impeccable source that an application on behalf of Abdelbaset Megrahi for compassionate release has this morning been received by the Scottish Government Justice Department. As with the case of prisoner transfer, the decision rests with the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill. Unlike prisoner transfer, compassionate release does not require the prisoner to abandon any ongoing legal proceedings.
Confirmation came in the form of an e-mail sent this afternoon by the Crown Office to relatives of those killed on Pan Am 103.
[RB: The Scottish Government’s website describes the process as follows:]
Section 3 of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993 gives the Scottish Ministers the power to release prisoners on licence on compassionate grounds. This process is akin to the system of medical parole that exists in many other jurisdictions.
The Act requires that Ministers are satisfied that there are compassionate grounds justifying the release of a person serving a sentence of imprisonment. Although the Act does not specify what the grounds for compassionate release are, generally it encompasses:
- those suffering from a terminal illness and death is likely to occur soon. There are no fixed time limits but life expectancy of less than three months may be considered an appropriate period;
- where the prisoner is severely incapacitated; or
- where continued imprisonment would, in light of the conditions in which the prisoner is being held, endanger or shorten his or her life expectancy.
Application from Mr Al-Megrahi
An application from Mr Al-Megrahi requesting compassionate release was received by the Scottish Ministers on 24 July.
In accordance with normal procedure, the application was forwarded to the Scottish Prison Service, where the Prison Governor, Social Work, and medical staff provide advice on the application. Each report supported that Mr Al-Megrahi was suitable for compassionate release.
The Act requires that the Parole Board is also consulted. The Parole Board advised that Mr Al-Megrahi was suitable for compassionate release.
If compassionate release is granted, the prisoner is released on licence. The licence sets out a range of conditions, including conditions on residence.