So, Scottish Justice Secretery, Kenny MacAskill MSP, has made his decision on the fate of the man convicted of the Lockerbie Bombing. Mr Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi has been released from Greenock Prison and has returned to Libya. This, in my opinion, was the only decision which Mr McAskill could have arrived at. Let me explain:
Scottish Law has compassion inbuilt into it as well as equity. The system sets out to treat no person different from another, whether they are convicted of the most minor of crimes or are convicted as the biggest mass murderer in the history of Scotland. The compassion which Scots law has is true and unconditional. This is something which we should be proud of about our legal system.
There is a policy in place in Scots Law, which has been in place for a very long time. The policy dictates that, if you have a terminal illness and have three months or less to live then you will be released from prison on compassionate grounds. This applies to all convicts in Scotland, regardless of their age, their gender, religion, crime or any other factor.
Mr MacAskill said the following when explaining his reasons:
“Mr al-Megrahi did not show his victims any comfort or compassion. They were not allowed to return to the bosom of their families to see out their lives, let alone their dying days. No compassion was shown by him to them.
But that alone is not a reason for us to deny compassion to him and his family in his final days.”
It is rare that I agree with what Mr MacAskill says, but on this occasion I agree wholeheartedly with him.
As for the reaction of the US Government, I say to them keep your nose out of our legal system. You’re system is obscene and built upon revenge and vigilantism. Also, if we were to become as involved in such a decision in your legal system as you have here, then you certainly wouldn’t like it and I suspect that you would never have allowed us to become involved in this way. You received information from the Scottish Government that they would never have received from you around this case. Our system is open, fair and filled with compassion and I am proud of that fact. That is how a legal system should operate. No, let’s take that even further – that is how a society should operate.
This case has given me some ideas for future blog posts which I will write over the coming days surrounding legal systems. Comments and views most welcome.