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August 31st, 2009
10:13 PM ET

Was there a secret deal?

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill says compassion was the only factor in the release.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill says compassion was the only factor in the release.

Robin Oakley
CNN

An act of compassion or an undercover deal? What is the truth about the release of Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi from the Scottish prison where the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing was incarcerated?

Defending his controversial decision Monday at an emergency session of the Scottish Parliament, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill argued that it was a case of "Do as you would wish to be done by."

He would not have let out al Megrahi, he said, on a prisoner transfer. That would have been against the promises given to the U.S. authorities and to the Lockerbie victims' families that the Libyan would serve his full life term in Scotland.

But when MacAskill, a member of the Scottish National Party-run government, was told by doctors and prison authorities last December that al Megrahi had terminal and untreatable cancer the situation changed.

He released al Megrahi, he said, strictly on grounds of compassion - the kind of compassion the terrorists had failed to show the Lockerbie victims.

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Filed under: Lockerbie Incident
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    It's not unchristian to lock up the guilty for punishment of mass murder. What IS unchristian is letting him go for a profit.

    September 1, 2009 at 8:33 am |
  2. Joseph Cornell

    Who killed 3000? I thought these comments were moderated.

    September 1, 2009 at 7:55 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    Welcome to the land of the free whose media surely invented conspiracy theory Journalism, and worse still unlike previous investigative journalists, in the past do not now base articles on facts, but rather plough a furrow with speculative words and opinion and unproved conspiracy ideas.
    Several key elements in this story are ignored.
    1) The Scottish courts stated some time ago that they were unhappy with some aspects of the evidence that convicted this man. They did not overturn the conviction.
    2) From the beginning, it was a fact that, all the investigative authorities concluded this was not the act of one individual, the others just were not caught or identified with adequate evidence.
    3) The UK press uncovered memos between Jack Straw and his Scottish counterpart ( 2 years ago) where JS objected to his release.
    4) The BP negotiations on the Oil contract have been going on for years, ( 5/6 plus) and American interests lost out long ago.( Unless Libya wants to delay the progress by many years of development I think not.) It's logical and reasonable timing for completion. US and GB recognised Libya diplomatically for one reason only to diversify access to Oil resource, and deny it to China or Russia.
    5) It's OK for America and UK or European nations to push other states to release its nationals on whatever grounds for whatever crime , but if Libya does it it has to have some conspiratorial basis. As I understand it they have been asking for years for his release and were ignored, until now. He is terminally ill with cancer.
    I have great sympathy for the families of Lockerbie victims as we all should. But to them I say what difference does it make to them whether he dies in Prison from his cancer or elsewhere... Before answering, I hope we are all christians, and as we all know life imprisonment does not always mean you must die in Prison. Also, UK and Scottish law has no death sentence!!
    Why must we have the assumption that all politicians lie? This might be a story worth investigating if this guy is still alive in 6 months time. Meantime investigate and produce the real evidence, or drop it please.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    September 1, 2009 at 1:10 am |
  4. shay weller

    I believe a deal was made, do they really think anyone will believe they feel compassion for a terrorist only?–$$$ & a oil deal was made.

    August 31, 2009 at 11:25 pm |
  5. Matt in Ontario Canada

    The truth will never come out. As I recall, after several thousand of your countrymen and women perished from the terrorists attacks on 9-11 Bush let Bin Ladens relatives fly out of your country. That was sooo compassionate of him. I am sure your fellow countrymen were very grateful for that. As are the families and friends of the people who perished on that doomed flight when they heard the news of Ali Mohmeds release. Political GREED has no concern for human life.

    August 31, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  6. Neil

    I find the double standards here almost laughable! How many puppet regimes, dictatorships, and 'friendly governments' has the United States installed to protect its' thirst for oil. There is the blood of a lot more innocent people on the hands of the American governmet then there is on those of Al-Megrahi.

    August 31, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  7. George Onmonya Daniel

    Ofcourse politicians will deny having no knowledge of any deal between Libya and Britain over oil deal to release the lockerbie bomber. But knowing western countries for their double standards and insatiable appertite for petroleum, anything is possible.

    August 31, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  8. Marge O'Connor

    There must have been a deal. They let him go because he was dying? Didn't he have a life sentence? Doesn't that mean one dies in prison? "Compassionate release because he's terminally ill" is a nonsensical cause for release.

    August 31, 2009 at 10:39 pm |
  9. Ron

    We have not seen anywhere on CNN the information given on World Focus that suggested that the Scottish release of the "terrorist" may not have been totally based on compassion. It's our understanding based on the WF report that the defense was seeking documents that the Prosecutor was not willing to release because it had information that might have supported the innocence, or at least raised questions on his guilt and that progress was being made to force the release of that information. The Scots compassion was therefore prompted by the worry that there may not have been enough hard evidence to support his conviction. I don't know if this is true, but it seems like it's worth CNN at least looking into it in parallel with the oil for release option receiving so much attention.

    August 31, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  10. lampe

    What kind of message does this send? It's okay to kill over 3,000, because you will get to go home, and die surrounded by your loved ones. He did not give his victims the same consideration.

    August 31, 2009 at 8:19 pm |
  11. Annie Kate

    This isn't the first decision and I imagine not the last that has been made down the scurrilous path of obtaining that black gold – oil – from the Middle East. We have built up leaders that then turn on us and do not even pretend to honor human rights; we have even helped in years past overthrown governments and place a leader into the top position that is more amenable to western trade needs. So now Scotland joins the rest of us with this compassionate release.....I'm not surprised but I am disappointed. I do hope this really was done for compassionate reasons – it might help take the edge off the cynicism a lot of people feel towards anything from the government now.

    August 31, 2009 at 8:15 pm |
  12. John In Phoenix

    NO WAY, NO HOW, ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! psssssst.........u know where I can sell some cheap oil?

    August 31, 2009 at 7:30 pm |
  13. Sabrina in Los Angeles

    Whatever the truth is, it will come out.

    August 31, 2009 at 7:22 pm |
  14. Ron San Bruno, Ca

    It's much bigger then MacAskill, Political Law has little concern for Human Life, but when it comes to the buck or the pound, you can always bet on Human Life taking the back seat .

    August 31, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  15. Lynn

    It makes me furious.And I don't understand for any reason why this animal was able to go home to die!He should be rotting away.All of the people on that plane never got to go home WHY should he?

    August 31, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  16. susan carroll

    Any reasonable person must concede that while Quadaffi celebrates his 40 years of absolute rule and an intellectual coup over the Scottish government, he is a brilliant politician. May he pitch his Bedoin tent in the middle of Central Park in a wide open space.

    August 31, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  17. Julia

    It is important to note that in the United Kingdom, including Scotland, a life sentence doesn't necessarily mean that you will die in prison, only that you will spend your prime years in prison. When Megrahi was sentenced he was given a "life sentence" of 27 years when he was only 49 years old.

    August 31, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  18. Mari

    We claim to be a Christian country, but where is compassion?

    Are we now back to the Old Testament law of an "eye for an eye"?

    Scotland is a sovereign nation, and can do what it deems best. Get over it. The man is dying and there is no proof that he masterminded the bomb on the Pan Am flight, not a single shred of evidence.

    August 31, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  19. \vaughn Samuel

    Ok! let me get this straight. Life inprisonment means that you would spend the rest of yourr life in prison as long as you are healthy? The imp was supposed to die in Jail. What compassion are they talking about? What kind of scotch whisky is MacAskill on that he thinks the US aand indeed the world would buy this compassionate nonsense? This is purely oil for prisoner deal. When will the west start sticking to their Rhetorics?

    August 31, 2009 at 4:24 pm |