Ever since the release to Libya of the bomber of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland and killed 270 people, the decision has been steeped in well-deserved controversy. Even if you take at face value the claims of the Scottish government that it freed Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on humanitarian grounds due to his supposedly imminently terminal prostate cancer, his release was an unconscionable affront to the families of the deceased, for whom al-Megrahi spent just over 11 days in jail for every person he killed. This is in addition to the disgusting hero’s welcome that he received at the airport when he returned to Libya.
But further doubts arose when it was whispered that al-Megrahi’s cancer wasn’t really that bad, and that some deal may have been struck between the UK and Libya. Those concerns gained even more credence today with a report by the Times Onlineon leaked documents that show Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and the Gordon Brown government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make al-Megrahi eligible for return to Libya.
The information is backed up by Sir Richard Dalton, former ambassador to Libya, and Said Gadaffi, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi, who has said repeatedly that the release of al-Megrahi was linked to the BP oil deal:
The fight to get the [transfer] agreement lasted a long time and was very political, but I want to make clear that we didn’t mention Mr Megrahi. At all times we talked about the [prisoner transfer agreement]. It was obvious we were talking about him. We all knew that was what we were talking about. People should not get angry because we were talking about commerce or oil. We signed an oil deal at the same time. The commerce and oil deals were all with the [prisoner transfer agreement].
I thought the release of al-Megrahi was disgusting before, but the craven and greedy motivations of the British government make this a national disgrace for the United Kingdom. The folks in England are right to be angry about this, and the families of the victims are right to be scandalized. This entire episode is a black mark on the Gordon Brown government and a shameful chapter in the annals of international justice. All involved need to wear a mark of disgrace for the rest of their political and professional careers.