Friday, 21 August 2009
Lockerbie bomber goes home to Libya
It must have been incredibly hard for relatives of those who died in the Lockerbie bombing to watch as that plane took off from Glasgow Airport yesterday. Even for those who agreed with Kenny MacAskill's decision, that had to be tough. But for those relatives who felt Al Megrahi should have died in Greenock Jail, it must have been like a stake through the heart. I can never feel how they do and I recognise how fortunate I am not to have suffered in the way that they have. But as I watched that flight take off with Mr Megrahi on board, it did occur to me that for some relatives, the sight of the plane taking off to deliver him safely to Libya when their families never got to complete their plane journey, it will have been a heartbreaking sight.
That said, I fully support the decision to release him on compassionate grounds. As Kenny said:
"In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people. 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."
The argument I've heard today that potential terrorists will think it's okay to bomb us because we'll let them go (when they're about to die don't forget) is just stupid. It's interesting how opinion is split between the relatives and just goes to show that you cannot please everybody.
My own view is that regardless of Megrahi's guilt or otherwise, and let's assume for argument's sake that he IS guilty, his family have committed no crime. And that is what compassion is all about. It's about understanding that his wife and children are innocent victims in all of this. Yes it's obviously harder to lose your father in a terrorist attrocity than for him to be jailed.
But that shouldn't detract from the devastation that was visited upon the lives of his children when he was arrested and subsequently imprisoned in a foreign country. And some may argue that HE was the one responsible for that but THEY, his children, had no say in this. And now, their father who they no doubt love (no justification is necessary here but I bet they believe he is completely innocent) is dying. Unless you believe that the sins of the father should, indeed, be borne by the sons, how can you argue against showing compassion to them?
I don't underestimate the pain this has caused to many of the relatives but their pain has been there since 1988 and it will be there till they too pass away. Kenny MacAskill couldn't undo what was already done. What satisfaction would they have got from Al Megrahi dying in Greenock anyway? He would have died and they'd have had no closure. They have none now. But perhaps Megrahi's children will get some. There is no answer to what happened on that horrific night that none of us will ever forget.
For those who are unhappy with Kenny's decision I just want them to know that he will not have taken it lightly and that those of us who support him 100% (as I do) do not feel any less sympathy for the relatives of those who were murdered. I feel for them and the pain they are going through. But I believe the decision today was correct.