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Daily View: Lockerbie bomber release

Clare Spencer | 09:52 UK time, Thursday, 22 July 2010

Commenators discuss the Scottish government's decision in 2009 to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi from prison and the US senators' calls for an inquiry.

Ewan Crawford argues in the Guardian that the Scottish decision was based purely on compassion:

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi

"As far as the Libyan agreement is concerned there may well be issues for UK ministers to address, but not for the Scottish government. As a devolved administration it has no access to any BP tax revenues - these flow directly into the Treasury, and it is forbidden from playing a formal role in international affairs. There were no political, economic or diplomatic advantages for the SNP government in releasing Megrahi."

The Telegraph editorial suggests that the decision can be seen as British, rather that Scottish:

"It was patently to the advantage of the Labour government to see Megrahi released. It not only set the seal on the return of Libya into the international community (a wholly desirable development), but also opened the way to potentially lucrative commercial deals, particularly in oil and gas. Yet Gordon Brown remained silent until Megrahi was back in Libya, determined not to attract the inevitable opprobrium; he was more than happy to see his old foes, the Scottish Nationalists, take the flak."

Analysis in the Scotsman of the fallout from the Centre for the Study of Terrorism says there is an advantage forScotland to the release being seen as a British decision:

"Considering even American politicians seem to have missed the distinction between Scotland's role and that of the UK - as calls by Senator Chuck Schumer to restore 'the integrity of the British government' suggest - it seems unlikely the anger against Scotland will be protracted."

The Scotland Herald's editorial calls for a full Lockerbie inquiry:

"Cameron has indicated that if any fresh concerns arise over the release he would consider an inquiry. But it is not the release of Megrahi which is at issue.
"The basis of conviction is an entirely different matter. Lockerbie is unfinished business that will not end with Megrahi's death. That can only be achieved by a wide-ranging, independent inquiry with the power to demand all the available documentation. That is what should be assessed."

Alexander Cockburn alleges in the First Post that the basis of Megrahi's conviction "was one of the great judicial scandals of the 20th Century":

"Amid all the bellowing about the release on compassionate grounds of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, convicted of the bombing of PanAm flight 103 in 1988, all current commentary ignores the hippo in the room - which is the powerful evidence that Megrahi was innocent, framed by the US and British security services and originally found guilty because Scottish judges had their arms brutally twisted by Westminster."

Links in full

Ewan Crawford | Guardian | Megrahi release was compassionate, not political
Telegraph | It's time to learn the truth about Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi
Scotsman | Lockerbie affair will have little effect on long-term relations with the US
Herald | We need a full Lockerbie inquiry
Alexander Cockburn | First Post | How Megrahi and Libya were framed for Lockerbie

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