Monday, May 21, 2012

33 Months

The medics said he had less than 3 months to live. In the event, Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, the only man convicted of the Lockerbie Bombing, died yesterday exactly 33 months after he was released by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

I am not, to say the very least, an admirer of MacAskill's. Anyone who has presided so lackadaisically over the appalling conditions at Cornton Vale Women's Prison while prioritising attacks on the UK Supreme Court deserves every bit of opprobrium they get. On Megrahi, though, he got it right in the decision to release him, if not in the process. I wrote on this extensively at the time, when Scotland was catapulted into the international spotlight.

I am far from convinced of Megrahi's guilt. I hope one day that we will know the truth about what happened.

Willie Rennie was right to say yesterday that Megrahi's death was no cause for celebration.He went on to call for an enquiry to establish the truth of what happened:
Although this is an end to a chapter of one of the worst terrorist events in Scotland there should be no celebration that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi has died.

Instead it should act as spur to establish the facts, including whether crucial forensic evidence was withheld from the trial
We should really pay most attention, though, to what Dr Jim Swire has to say. His dignity and compassion in the face of the worst adversity is an example to all of us. He lost his daughter, Flora, when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie. I'm not sure I could have maintained his rational and open minded pursuit for the truth. Yesterday, he said:

"It's a very sad event,”
“I met him for the last time face-to-face in Tripoli last December, when he was very sick and in a lot of pain.
“But he still wanted to talk about how information which he and his defence team had accumulated could be passed to me after his death.
“That’s an amazing thing for a man who knows he’s dying to do.
“Right up to the end he was determined – for his family’s sake, he knew it was too late for him – that the verdict against him should be overturned.
“He wanted that for the sake of those relatives who had come to the conclusion after studying the evidence that he wasn’t guilty – and I think that’s going to happen.
Megrahi's demise was painful and protracted.  His 33 months at home in Tripoli was very difficult for him indeed. His life may be over, but the quest for truth must not end with him. The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission identified no less than six reasons why there may have been a miscarriage of justice in his case. The families of the victims deserve to know what really happened.

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