Predictably, the outcry over the compassionate release of the only person convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, has been loud and spoken malnly with an american accent.
Poor old Kenny MacAskill, Scotland’s justice secretary, has been the main target. He claims to have made the decision to release Megrahi all on his own but as we all know it is very unlikely to have been allowed to proceed had it not been part of a much bigger political picture.
“Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world who now believe that regardless of the quality of the investigation, the conviction by jury after the defendant is given all due process, and sentence appropriate to the crime, the terrorist will be freed by one man’s exercise of ‘compassion’.”
Hmm now where do we start on that one?
Megrahi’s trial is generally accepted to have been, at best, controversial and was not tested in front of a jury but in front of a panel of three Scottish judges sitting in a ‘neutral’ country. Proof of the quality of the investigation normally rests on the evidence presented to the court and again this has been disputed with claims that some of the ‘proof’ was fraudulent or fabricated.
Sadly, Megrahi’s release stopped his scheduled appeal, which would have tested all of the above and hopefully brought a more balanced judgement on the guilt of the accused.
But what could almost be the funniest part of the letter, if it was not so serious, is the part saying:
“Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice. Indeed your action makes a mockery of the rule of law.”
Remember this was written by a senior law officer in a country that has brought the word ‘rendition’ into the English vocabulary, where anyone suspected of actions that could be even remotely related to terrorism, were flown around the world while hooded and chained, were tortured by water boarding and worse, were mentally abused and held in a prison camp on foreign soil without due process of law or being formally charged with any offence – all for years on end.
If this is the definition of justice to which Mr Mueller refers then it is hard to know who is the greatest danger to the ‘rule of law’.
To be able to criticise Mr MacAskill, the distinguished director of the FBI should first have made certain he was writing from the lofty peaks of the moral high ground.
If the recent behaviour of the US intelligence services is now seen as a benchmark for ‘justice’ then… stop the world..I want to get off!