So, the Lockerbie bomber has received a hero’s welcome back home in Libya. I know the US is not happy about that, and I wonder how others who supported his release feel about it.
I did not lose a loved one in the Lockerbie bombing, but I did have a friend in college who lost her brother. I did not follow the trial and can only accept that Mr. Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was found guilty and imprisoned. For those who cannot understand how cold Americans can be regarding Mr. al-Megrahi and how angry they are at his release, let me point out a few things.
Mr. al-Megrahi was the only one convicted – he probably was not the only one involved, he may not have been the ringleader, but most likely, he had a hand in it. Whether he was a scapegoat or not is a different matter. His government handed him over and he was found guilty. The Americans were not the judges. They accepted the verdict. Had he been found innocent, they would have continued the quest for justice. He is something tangible for them to take their anger and frustration out on.
A sentence was delivered. To cut the sentence short, out of compassion, feels like a betrayal to these people. It does not seem like justice. People may preach compassion all they want, but victims’ families have a hard time hearing it. Also, in the US, prisoners get better health care than the general public. So, releasing him on compassionate grounds would not be considered “compassionate” – though Americans don’t view keeping him in prison as compassionate, they just think it’s justice. However, if you wanted to argue compassion, they would argue that he would get free medical care in prison. Was he getting that in the UK? Is it more compassionate to send him home to Libya where medical care may not be as good?
I’m sure Gaddafi and the Libyans now pretend to show great friendship to the UK (especially Lord Mandelson), but deep down inside I wonder what their feelings are regarding the UK’s “compassionate” stand. I don’t refer just to Mr. al-Megrahi. The UK (I am not separating Scotland and England) has shown compassion to several prisoners who are terminally ill. Do the people in the Middle East admire that trait, or do they scorn it? Will they be grateful, or will they take advantage of it? Of course, most people in the UK are probably not as cynical as I am, so they will not care. They may claim to be atheists, but they show a more Christian-like attitude by turning the other cheek and proving that they can rise above resentment and revenge by showing compassion to someone they feel may be a mass murderer.
But, even so, the fact that he received a hero’s welcome, rather than house arrest, almost comes across as if the Libyans want to stick it to the western world that they can get away with murder.
Addendum: The fact that al-Megrahi’s solicitor, Tony Kelly, made the following statement (according to BBC online):
“He had to say whether he was going to stay here and die in prison with a view to trying to clear his name posthumously, or to abandon the appeal with a view to getting himself home so he could go back to the bosom of his family.”
seems to imply that al-Megrahi had prior knowledge of his release, even before the decision was made. And Mandelson denies he had a discussion with Gaddafi’s son regarding this issue?