Tuesday, August 23, 2011
David Cameron says he wants to see Al Megrahi returned to jail as Gaddafi regime nears endgame, an attack on principle of Scots judicial sovereignty
We could say that David Cameron's intervention in Libya is ‘regime change by proxy’, after all trying to sell to the public another ‘war on add name’ would affect his re-election chances.
It pretty much killed Labour’s possibly chance of success at both the Westminster and Holyrood elections.
Now, the rebels have entered Tripoli, the endgame for Gaddafi is in sight, he has lost the country in real terms.
At present attention focuses on the hunt for Gaddafi but there is another side issue, that of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi.
Megrahi technically is still under Scottish jurisdiction having been processed by our courts and been found guilty, admittedly not done on Scottish soil.
David Cameron has decided that Megrahi convicted of the Lockerbie bombing should be back behind bars.
This is the position coming out of No 10 last night.
It is an attack on the sovereignty of the Scottish Government as justice is a devolved matter.
Megrahi was freed on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, at the time medics gave him somewhere in the region of three months to live. Two years down the line he is still alive, medicine isn’t an exact science when it comes to determining the exact moment of death.
The task of monitoring Megrahi falls to the social work department in East Renfrewshire Council.
It is here that East Renfrewshire Council’s criminal justice manager Jonathan Hinds keeps in contact by video conference with Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi every month until he dies.
They check he remains at the address in Tripoli and is unharmed amid the fierce fighting there.
How they keep him safe and unharmed during the fighting remains a mystery but I can guess they say, don’t go out.
Cameron and the rest of his Tory ilk quickly came to a position that they regarded the decision by the Scottish Government in August 2009 to release the 59-year-old Libyan on compassionate grounds as wrong.
He was convicted of killing 270 people in Britain’s worst mass murder, however, there are serious doubts as to whether Al Megrahi did it or was given a fair trial.
People like Dr Jim Swire believe he didn’t do the bombing of the Pan Am 103 flight and have campaigned hard on the issue.
Yesterday, Cameron’s spokeswoman was asked what he believed should happen to Megrahi in the event that the regime of Muammar Gaddafi fell.
“Clearly, that’s a matter for the authorities there.”
And when it came to the request by American senators for the Libyan to be extradited to the US to stand trial there, she dodged the issue by saying that Megrahi was “convicted of the most appalling act of terror, involving the loss of hundreds of lives and our thoughts remain with the families of those victims”.
“The Prime Minister is very clear he regrets the continued anguish, pain and suffering that Megrahi’s release has caused to those families and his personal views are well-known – that is, he thinks it is wrong he was released.”
Asked if Cameron remained of the opinion that Megrahi should now be returned to jail, the spokeswoman nodded and said:
“He has expressed those views before. He believes he should not have been released.”
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, also believes the Libyan should be returned to jail but feels there are “technical difficulties” in achieving this.
Namely the Scottish Government’s claim to Megrahi which is outside their jurisdiction, Megrahi is technically and legally still under Scottish jurisdiction until he dies.
The agreement was everyone’s claim was given up because the event took place in Scotland.
A Scottish Government spokesman said:
“Al Megrahi was sent back to Libya according to the due process of Scots law because he is dying of terminal prostate cancer. He is being monitored by East Renfrewshire Council under the terms of his release licence, which he has not breached.”
Given statements by the head of the National Transitional Council in the press and media regarding that the rule of law and human rights will be upheld, Megrahi won’t be going anywhere if those statements have meaning.
The US Senators claims and those of US Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney have no validity in saying Megrahi should be sent to America.
It would be an attack on Scottish judicial sovereignty by them.
Megrahi if the National Transitional Council remains true to their word regarding rule of law and human rights should have nothing to fear.
However, we have all seen that despite laws being in place abuse of power can take place.
The Scottish Justice Secretary made a decision that was in accordance with the rules set out in the release of prisoners who have terminal illnesses.
Regardless whether Cameron, the US Senators and US Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney like it isn’t a concern, they are entitled not to, but the decision was made and that is what everyone has to accept.
Megrahi is still a prisoner in the eyes of the Scottish justice system; he has been let out because he is terminal ill.
Any decision to bring him back rests with the Scottish authorities, not English or American.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University