It took more than a decade to get Abdel Baset al-Megrahi to trial in Scotland to face charges of mass murder in the bombing of a Pan Am jet that killed 259 people in the air and 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie. Convicted of the murders, Megrahi got sentenced to life imprisonment, but as it turns out, Megrahi will serve less than 12 days for each murder. Scotland has agreed to release Megrahi on “compassionate” grounds:
Scotland’s government freed the terminally ill Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds Thursday, allowing him to die at home in Libya despite American protests that mercy should not be shown to the man responsible for the deaths of 270 people.
The White House said it “deeply regrets” Scotland’s move minutes after the decision was announced.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said Abdel Baset al-Megrahi’s condition had deteriorated from prostate cancer. Al-Megrahi had only served some eight years of a life sentence, but MacAskill said he was bound by Scottish values to release him.
Many of the victims were American, including four intelligence officers on Pan Am 103. How did the Obama administration react to the release of the man who murdered them? Rather passively:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton phoned MacAskill before the announcement, urging him not to release al-Megrahi, and seven U.S. senators wrote a letter with a similar message.
In Washington, Obama administration officials said Scottish authorities had not formally notified them that al-Megrahi would be released. But they said the administration was working on the assumption that he would be. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicate diplomacy involved and the sensitive nature of the case.
Supposedly, Megrahi only has three months to live, and the Scots want to give him the opportunity to spend his last few days with his family. I suppose the families of Megrahi’s 270 victims would have liked that, too. Too bad Megrahi never gave them that chance.
The Scots say that they treated him according to Scotland’s values. Apparently, they value innocent life at around 11.57 days, which is the number that Megrahi served for each person he murdered in that terrorist attack. If we don’t value innocent life more than that, how exactly does that make us different from thugs like Megrahi?