Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)
Oil, Christianity and the Lockerbie Bomber
THE decision by the Scottish administration to free the convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, is both controversial and interesting. It raises questions about the basis of our public moral decisions and Britain's wider economic interests. Oil and Christianity are two alternative explanations for Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill's decision to release a man convicted of killing 270 people. Both may have played a part, though in justice to Mr MacAskill, the Christian virtue of compassion plainly influenced his approach to the issue.
There is, moreover, the serious question of whether Mr al-Megrahi did actually commit the crime for which he was imprisoned in 2001. Since the bombing in 1988 there have been doubts about whether the plane was interfered with at Heathrow rather than in Malta. Those doubts have stubbornly persisted and Mr al-Megrahi has consistently claimed to be innocent, though he dropped the appeal against his conviction. It is a matter for intense regret that, at the time, the alternative explanations for this calculated mass murder were not more fully explored. Now it is probably too late.
But as matters stand, Mr al-Megrahi is a convicted murderer and the question is, was it right to release him eight years into his life sentence on the basis that his terminal prostate cancer means he may well have only months to live? …