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Lockerbie prisoner released

20/08/2009

The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing has been released on compassionate grounds.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said today that his decision to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi from Greenock Prison, was taken after medical reports showed that he has terminal cancer and perhaps three months left to live.

Mr MacAskill, who rejected the possibility of a prison transfer agreement with Libya, said he appreciated that there were deeply held feelings over the case and many would disagree whatever his decision, but nonetheless a decision had to be made.

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Lockerbie decision

He said that while Al-Megrahi had been responsible for a heinous crime and showed no compassion to his victims. However, that alone was no reason for him to be denied compassion in his final days.

Mr MacAskill said:

"Scotland will forever remember the crime that has been perpetrated against our people and those from other lands. Some hurt can never heal. Some scars can never fade. Those who have been bereaved cannot be expected to forget, let alone forgive. Their pain runs deep and the wounds remain.

"However, Mr Al Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule. It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die.

Read the Justice Secretary's full statement

"In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic. The perpetration of an atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold, and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live.

"Mr Al-Megrahi did now show his victims any comfort or compassion. They were not allowed to return to the bosom of their families to see out their lives, let alone their dying days. No compassion was shown by him to them. But that alone is not a reason for us to deny compassion to him and his family in his final days.

"Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people, no matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated.

"For these reasons alone it is my decision that Mr Al-Megrahi be released on compassionate grounds and allowed to return to Libya to die."

Read the Justice Secretary's full statement

Al-Megrahi had served eight years of a life sentence imposed in 2001 after he was convicted at the Scottish Court in the Netherlands of the murder of 270 people at Lockerbie in December 1988.