Welcome home to Abdel Basset al-Megrahi who was reunited with his family and friends in Tripoli today! I was relieved to see that the Scottish government chartered a jumbo jet to securely fly him home to his native Libia with all the comforts and security of a visiting dignitary.
The man was accused and convicted by a Scottish court of planting a bomb aboard PANAM flight 103. Four days before Christmas in December 1988 the bomb exploded inside the jet. It killed 259 people on the aircraft and another 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie Scotland.
The judge said that since Abdel has prostate cancer he should be allowed to return to Libia so he can die in the comfort of his own home surrounded by his loved ones. The grounds cited were “compassionate grounds”.
Nice thought. I like compassion. I really wish he has displayed the same compassion to the 270 people he killed. When your airplane is blown out of the sky with c4 concealed in a Toshiba boom-box packed into a suitcase, well, you don’t get to die at home surrounded by loved ones. You get blasted into the cold air as the plane splits apart and then, strapped into your seat, you fall though the dark night to the ground thirty thousand feet below. That takes a while. Then, of course, there are the victims who died on the ground. A slightly better death I imagine only because it was quicker.
I really wish all these people had been afforded the compassion of dying at home. But since they did not: Why, exactly, is Scottish justice minister Kenny MacAskill affording this compassion to Abdel Basset al-Megrahi? As I see it the real punishment of a life sentence is the prospect and ultimate reality of dying alone in prison.
There are some who claim he is innocent and was framed. “I am delighted. I don’t think he had anything to do with it and I think he was effectively framed,” Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the bombing, told Reuters. Great. Why don’t you and others like Kenny MacAskill and the former UK Labour MP Tam Dalyell, produce evidence to overturn the verdict? Why not produce the real culprits? At least compel the Scottish court to make a formal proclamation that despite his failed appeals for release, they have been holding the wrong man for 8 years. Then let him go home.
But that is not what the Scottish court did. It maintained that Abdel Basset al-Megrahi murdered 270 people and in the same breath said that serving 8 years is enough due to their compassion for the man. By the same logic someone who murders only one person in cold blood should serve 10.8 days in jail. Very compassionate for the murderer. What about the victim?
The Lockerbie bomber has been sent home to Libya to die. I hope he succeeds. Soon. Because there is no compassion in setting a convicted murder free after 8 years of a life sentence.