August 22, 2009

IF THOMAS WATT HAMILTON HAD BEEN TAKEN ALIVE...:

Gordon Brown in new storm over freed Lockerbie bomber (Gaby Hinsliff, 8/22/09, guardian.co.uk)

[T]he new letter, addressed to "dear Muammar" and signed off by wishing him a happy Ramadan, suggests that the decision was well enough advanced and Brown well enough briefed to set terms for a homecoming – albeit unsuccessfully. A jubilant Libyan crowd, some waving Scottish flags, greeted Megrahi at the airport.

Last night the Tories redoubled calls for the government to release official records of conversations about the release, as Gaddafi increased the embarrassment by publicly thanking "my friend Brown, his government, the Queen of Britain, Elizabeth, and Prince Andrew who all contributed to encouraging the Scottish government to take this historic and courageous decision". [...]

The business secretary, Lord Mandelson, left hospital today – where he was recovering from a prostate operation – and insisted that it was "completely wrong" and "offensive" to suggest that Megrahi's release was linked to trade deals over oil and gas.

Mandelson met Gaddafi's son during a holiday in Corfu this month, several weeks after the prime minister's meeting in Italy, and has admitted the subject of the Lockerbie bomber was raised. Today he said the Libyans had had "the same response from me as they would have had from any other member of the government".


...but then developed prostate cancer, do you suppose the government would have released him on humanitarian grounds?


MORE:
Secret talks on deal to return Megrahi to Libya (Exclusive by LUCY ADAMS, 1/15/09, The Herald)

According to Libyan officials, senior civil servants at Whitehall have actively "encouraged" them to apply for prisoner transfer for Megrahi - a move likely to be highly unpopular with campaigners and some of the relatives of the victims of the bombing, who want to hear the fresh evidence in open court.

A Libyan source said: "We have been encouraged to apply for the prisoner transfer option once the agreement is ratified, but there are concerns as to whether the UK Government can be trusted."

The Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) was signed off by a delegation from Tripoli and senior UK officials in November and is due to be ratified by the UK and Libyan parliaments in March.

It would take months for an agreement on such a transfer to be reached, partly because Megrahi is serving a life sentence and his case would have to be reviewed by the Scottish Prison Service and the Parole Board.

The final decision will ultimately lie with Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary - a point clarified last year during the very public argument which followed the Scottish Government's discovery that it had not been privy to the details of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Tony Blair and Colonel Gaddafi in May 2007 as part of the "deal in the desert".

While Whitehall officials denied the deal and subsequent PTA had anything to do with the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, the row between the Scottish and UK Governments highlighted the fact that it was about Megrahi.

Professor Robert Black, one of the architects of the original trial at Camp Zeist, said: "If this happens it will leave a stain on the Scottish criminal justice system because lots of people now believe there is something wrong with the conviction if he decides he wants to go home and is allowed no other options.

"But is that really the path a civilised legal system should be taking? Compelling him to go down that path would leave serious questions about the criminal justice system unanswered."

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 22, 2009 3:17 PM
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