Should the Lockerbie bomber be freed on compassionate grounds?

MegrahiAbdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing, is expected to be released on compassionate grounds.

Eight and half years ago he was jailed for life for the murders of 270 people but now he is terminally ill.

Kathleen Flynn, whose son died on the plane, says he showed no mercy as he planted his bomb and should “never qualify for anything compassionate”.

Canadian blogger ‘blastfurnace’ thinks giving Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi a free pass, even on compassionate grounds, is wrong.

And blogger David Vance says he should die in prison. David also mentions the recent release the ‘Great Train Robber’ Ronnie Biggs from prison on “compassionate” grounds and asks if it was another great escape?

But David Lindsay says ‘Everyone knows that he didn’t do it’ and so Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi should be freed.

Should the Lockerbie bomber be freed on compassionate grounds?

42 Responses to “Should the Lockerbie bomber be freed on compassionate grounds?”

  1. 1 James Ian
    August 13, 2009 at 11:35

    Not if he has been found guilty!!

  2. 2 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 13, 2009 at 11:36

    He should be freed because from reading the story it seems that there is alot of doubt surrounding his conviction and incarceration.

  3. August 13, 2009 at 12:18

    Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was only a scapegoat because the attack was planned and financed by the Libyan regime. The victims were compensated and the affair is closed at the diplomatic level. Now Libya has normal relations with the US and UK.

    Ali al-Megrahi’s sentence now should be his terminal illness which is in a way a “divine” punishment. He can be freed from prison. But it’s unlikely that he can be freed from his illness.

    Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi should be freed. He was a mere instrument throughout the process of the Lockerbie attack. The Libyan regime used him for the attack , then surrounded him to the British authorities as a step for normalizing its relations with the West. The fiasco shouldn’t continue. Ali al-Megrahi should be returned to his country.

    • 5 A.T.J, Tunisia
      August 16, 2009 at 17:40

      I am sorry that Mr. Boukili you have looked at one side, namely al Megrahi. But you did not look at the other side, namely; the victim. This problem is not easy, because it contains lot of pains. You said that al Megrahi was surrunded to Britain! How did you know? at for me, I do not have another mean to get justice done, if I ignore the process. I knew that many things in this event are not clear at all. But what can we do other than to follow the rules?

  4. 6 dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    August 13, 2009 at 12:21

    I dont know whether this means that he would be freed for good without him coming back soon anytime to serve his term of arrest.

  5. 8 Linda from Italy
    August 13, 2009 at 12:26

    Leaving aside the question of his guilt and from what I’ve heard there is indeed considerable, let alone reasonable doubt, the guy has only a very short time to live. Of course I do my best to feel for the families of the victims, although since this sort of tragedy has never happened to me personally it does take a leap of imagination and I couldn’t guarantee I would actually react as I hope I would in such a situation. However, this sort of vengeful attitude rocks the moral high ground we in the West tend to think we inhabit to the core. It is the same argument as that against the death penalty and I would be interested in a survey of how attitudes between the American and the European victims’ relatives differ.
    By allowing him to die in some sort of peace, we demonstrate our own humanity and ability to understand frailties of human nature and even forgive these, yes when they cause such terrible harm, and this is the only true weapon we have against mindless violence and terrorism.

  6. 9 RightPaddock
    August 13, 2009 at 12:37

    I’m with you Deryk/Trinidad,

    I followed the case quite closely form the day the plane crashed. I was never convinced it was the Libyan’s.

    At the time Reagan and Thatcher decided that Libya was the place from which all evil doers came, Thatcher with some justification because they’s been supplying the IRA with weapons for years, They were of course paid for by Americans who thought it was OK to support terrorists who bombed pubs and shops – strange how opinions have chnaged more recently.

    The country which had the motive to knock out an American civilian flight was Iran, in retaliation for the Iranian civilian aircraft that was shot out of the sky via a missile launched from the USS Vincennes.

    And the whole trial was a stitch up, the evidence was so flimsy that the judges had to acquit one of the two people accused, and the primary evidence against al-Megrahi would have been disallowed in a normal trial because it was self contradictory.

    I have never understood why the governments of the UK and the USA persisted with the idea that Libya was responsible. It seems that so called democratic governments are just as incapable of admitting they were wrong as the South American dictators were in earlier times. If they would just occasionally admit they got things wrong then we would not be witnessing the global dissolution with elected governments. I sometimes wonder if we would be better off with honest benevolent dictators than the lying malevolent democrats who seem to dominate today’s corridors of power.

  7. 10 Wesley Ngwenya
    August 13, 2009 at 12:52

    Freed! you kidding me? You kill 270 people, found guilty and sentenced and now he is going to be free? But again this is Africa, I forget, where anything goes including the compromised judiciary.

  8. August 13, 2009 at 12:56

    freeing him because he is a scapegoat has nothing to do with him being ill or not.

    if he was innocent he should be freed even if he was as healthy as a horse.

    if he was found guilty of killing 270 people beyond reasonable doubt, I think he should have been executed back then and there. not left to languish in jails.

    people need to make up their minds, is he guilty or not. being “unsure” and giving “unsure” half-way sentences is a crime against any defendant.

    • 12 Nanci
      August 13, 2009 at 16:22

      Great post. I agree.

    • August 17, 2009 at 16:18

      Best post so far.

      A number of posters have alleged uncertainty in the verdict. Sorry, I trust the British system of law. Maybe only Canada has a better system of checks and balances. People thinking there were irregularities in the trial, and supposing they know more than the British judges are going down an irrelevant and very wrong path. He was found guilty, and has not successfully appealed that verdict. We must assume he is guilty of an absolutely inhumane crime.

      I think release on compassionate grounds is a no-go. He was found guilty of plotting and executing 270 innocent people. Some parts of the world execute people for killing just one person. I think life in prison is compassionate enough.

      Terminal cancer can be very painful. Sufficient compassion would be to give him proper medical treatment including a lot of pain killers, but not release.

  9. 14 patti in cape coral
    August 13, 2009 at 13:05

    There appear to be a lot of irregularities in his case, and at this point there is very little damage he can do, so with that information, I would say to free him on compassionate grounds. It is very compelling to me that a lot of the family members of the victims seem to have a doubt as to whether he is guilty.

  10. 15 steve
    August 13, 2009 at 14:36

    Was he compassionate to the hundreds of people he killed? You know, the men, women and children?

  11. 16 John in Salem
    August 13, 2009 at 14:49

    If there is doubt, let him out – if not, let him rot.

    Like any parole hearing, the victims families should have the loudest say.
    But the question of whether or not he was used for the mission and then sacrificed for political reasons is beside the point. If he actually planted the bomb you can be sure no one held a gun to his head to make him do it. Had he killed 270 people like any other serial killer – one at a time – we wouldn’t be having this discussion no matter what condition he is in now.

    • August 13, 2009 at 15:31

      Actually, in the UK, while the victim’s family do have a say, this has to be ignored in the interests of justice to the offender and rightly so. We either have a dispassionate system of justice or we have vigilante rule.

  12. 18 Linda from Italy
    August 13, 2009 at 15:18

    @ Steve – Was he compassionate to the hundreds of people he killed?

    Does than mean that compassion only applies to people who have not done bad things? Sort of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

    @ John in Salem – the victims families should have the loudest say

    Really, I thought it was the law, as interpreted by legal and other advisory experts that decided these things? Or have I missed some ghastly reversion to the “eye for an eye” form of justice? Many of us look in horror at the “blood money” option adopted in many Muslim countries, so how is this any different? Wounded and distraught as the victims’ families must be, it is not they who should administer justice, but the legal code that, in most Western democracies aims for objectivity, even if it doesn’t always succeed. Letting victims decide would turn justice into a lottery as penalties imposed would depend on the mindset of the people in question and there would be absolutely no consistency.

  13. 19 Yirga
    August 13, 2009 at 15:29

    If he has repented let him free if not I think it is not fair to release him, it is up to the prison officials!

  14. 20 Jennifer
    August 13, 2009 at 15:47

    Re: Should the Lockerbie bomber be freed on compassionate grounds?

    No, I don’t don’t think so. This is all backwards! Feel compassion for those who lost their lives and their families. They are truly innocent and deserve compassion; not the man who killed them.

    Prostate cancer or no; this person killed 270 people. He changed the lives of their families forever. He should not be released!

  15. 21 sara mack
    August 13, 2009 at 15:47

    did any for you that think he should go free have loved ones on that plain? if not you should not speak. the people this tragity as touched are outraged at this so called compationet release. my uncel was on that plain and i did not get to say good by to him y should one of the men that had no such compation for the people on the plain and the thos sleeping in there bed that dec. night get “compation” from any one and get to say good by to his family. y u tell me !!!!!

  16. 22 patti in cape coral
    August 13, 2009 at 15:47

    Did he actually plant the bomb? According to the article sited, that was in question as well. As flimsy as it sounded, it seems like he shouldn’t have been in jail in the first place.

  17. 23 anu_D
    August 13, 2009 at 15:53

    Nope…absolutely not.

    Terrorist and murderers or for that matter all criminal serving prison sentence do not deserve compassion.

    Copmassion is antithesis to the concept of “crime and punsihment”

    The only exception I would make to grant compassionate amnesty somnetimes is to the “Prisoner of Wars”

  18. 24 sara mack
    August 13, 2009 at 16:14

    even if he was only part of the planing he still found gilty! and for the familys that is some sort of closer that had been a long time coming and now as we try to move on all this has brought up things for our family that we were try to move past. not that this s something we can EVER

  19. 25 helen in usa
    August 13, 2009 at 17:46

    You don’t say what will become of him if he is freed. Will he become homeless?Will he fear to step outside if he is sent to a hospice or other place in Scotland?I know too little about him to know if the sentence he got and why he did what he did warrants one tiny drop of compassion. Some people are willfully evil and act using their full and sound reasoning powers to commit crime. He may not deserve compassion at all. And does not deserve compassion if he’in his full reasoning capacity deemed the murder of every person on the plane was what he wanted to do. If he is a bomber and a murderer but used his full mental capacity to that end,I would say he had no compassion for his victims. But like all cases there is much the public doesn’t know. I can only express a tentative opinion based on that lack of information.

  20. 26 nora
    August 13, 2009 at 17:56

    Serious doubt about guilt should be a real factor.

    The big questions around who committed the Lockerbie bombing are well explored in The Maltese Double Cross, a film made by Alan Franckovitch at the cost of his life, It was, I believe, made in affiliation with BBC. Work of genius which, it it had not been dragged through litigation, would have cautioned more people about the first bombing of the World Trade Center as well as the strange goings on about Lockerbie.

    By the by, Alan the investigative journalist had his ashes strewn with the victims over the Scottish Highlands.

  21. 27 Larry McGrath
    August 13, 2009 at 18:22

    Compassion should always be shown. Not when it is deserved or the crime is not so bad… that would be easy. I have sat on a jury twice and been called on to make a decision based on evidence. In both instances I was not 100% sure of the defendants guilt. Ultimately judgement is between the person accused and their Creator.

  22. 28 Barbara
    August 13, 2009 at 18:27

    Absolutely not. Sometimes even the prison sentence isn’t enough concerning extraordinarily violent crimes. Criminals are humans; therefore, they know the difference between right and wrong, and chose wrong. Now they must pay the consequnces, whether they are healthy or unwell.

  23. 29 Jim
    August 13, 2009 at 18:28

    What is to stop him from strapping a bomb to himself and detonating in some crowed place. He has already shown the capacity to kill innocent people when he faces consequences. Being terminally ill he does not face any consequences.

  24. 30 Jeet
    August 13, 2009 at 18:33

    My question to all the people who support the compassion for this guy – ” What if goes out & repeat his crime again”. Who would be held responsible.

  25. 31 Marjorie in Jamaica
    August 13, 2009 at 18:37

    I remember watching the news in the UK at the time and was horrified at seeing the crater created in the ground as a result of this tragic disaster.

    If we leave out all the emotions then perhaps we can see the need to send a convicted criminal home to die. What is “freedom” to a dying individual and how is it satisfying to keep him in jail until he dies.

    If I accept the question as it is being debated, then if being sent home to die is compassionate, then I can agree that people who commit dreadful crimes can be given compassion based strictly and only on the fact that they are dying of some terminal disease.

  26. 32 Liz
    August 13, 2009 at 18:46

    Serious criminals convicted of their crimes who are ill in prison should be given the compassion of treatment while serving their sentences. They should not be released or excused from the remainder of their sentences.

  27. 33 melissa
    August 13, 2009 at 18:48

    He was found quilty, his sentence was life, there for he should give his life in prison. there should be no compassionate leave for anyone who is found guilty of violent crimes.

  28. 34 Matt (USA)
    August 13, 2009 at 18:53

    A term I keep hearing is “justice”. Justice is the application of law to maintain order. Punishment, on the other hand, serves only 2 functions in most cases: first, to deter average citizens from disrupting the social order; second, as a means of retribution and vengeance for pains inflicted upon individuals and a society. I would argue that the first function has a place in society, while the second only encourages the feelings and attitudes that perpetuate violence.

    • August 17, 2009 at 16:34

      Hey Matt: I think “Justice” has a much more expansive application than simply to maintain order, and in fact I doubt justice’s purpose is to maintain order. Law, enforcement including the types in Iran or North Korea whereby hundreds of thousands have been sent to prison camps, or for that matter the execution camps of Hitler’s Germany were in part to maintain order.

      I know that is not what you meant, and I am for one not smart enough to know how to define justice. I will say, however, that free nations must do their best to define and refine justice and seek ongoing improvements in their knowledge.

      Having said that, what is your point? Free or not free? Hahaha

  29. 36 Dennis Junior
    August 13, 2009 at 19:53

    No, The Lockerbie Bomber should not be released on grounds because of his ill health….

    All due respect, there are health centres in the prisons….used them.

    =Dennis Junior=

  30. 37 archibald
    August 13, 2009 at 20:11

    “Justice” is such a relative term. There is considerable doubt that this man was the perpetrator and there is evidence that indicates a serious bias in many cases, of this ilk, toward conviction and closure for the families of victims, over convicting the actual criminals. More and more we see prosecutors and their handlers bowing to public pressure, solely for the sake of maintaining the face of “justice”.
    Too many people seem totally unfazed by any of the anomalies in this case, happy to see justice done even if it is the wrong man who was convicted. Groupthink will be the death of us all……..

  31. 38 anu_D
    August 13, 2009 at 20:18

    It would be criminal to expect any behind the scene negotiations between the governments as the cause for this “compassionate release”

  32. 39 Dennis Junior
    August 14, 2009 at 03:10

    I think that the idea of releasing Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi would bring more prisoners, who are afflicted with medical problems; want to be released from Prison on Compassionate Grounds….

    I am associated to Syracuse, New York…..The City that was plagued by the Lockerbie killings, because, there were students from Syracuse University….

    =Dennis Junior=

  33. August 16, 2009 at 11:51

    I understand from the news that the american commander of the battleship which shot down the Iranian civilian aircraft with 300+ passengers aboard and which is held by many observers to be the revenge reason Lockerbie happened still walks free. Compassion and justice must always be linked if reason is to be maintained.

    • August 17, 2009 at 17:14

      Emile; There is a difference between an error, however bad the results of that error might be, versus a premeditated murder. The Russians shot down the Korean Airlines flight in error as well. Tragically horrible these results, but they were not premeditated murder. Premeditated crime, even with the perception of the right or cause, is wrong. Further, how can you link justice to getting even with other, innocents versus for example the American commander or the Russian officer who made kill decisions? Given these two examples, should anyone be justified in indiscrimenately killing Russians or Americans just to get even?

      I think not. Not sure what you meant by your last sentence or how it is applicable.

  34. 42 Elias
    August 17, 2009 at 16:02

    No, No , No he did a most horrific deed that killed 270 innocent men women and children by blowing up an airliner which cannot be excused under any circumstances. Had he done this in another country like China, Russia or some others, he would have been executed and paid for it with his life.

    He could be afforded medical help for his suffering as he is terminally ill, he should be allowed to die confined in prison till he is terminally dead, as are the passengers in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing he terminally killed.

    The question should be asked, was Col. Gadafi of Libya also responsible?.

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