It has been 20 years since Pan Am Flight 103 went down over Lockerbie, Scotland. 270 people lost there lives in the terror attack. To date Al-Megrahi isthe only person ever sentenced for the bombing. After serving 8 years of a life sentence, he will have the opportunity to spend the end of his life on his death bed at home with his family.
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill gets full credit for taking responsibility for his decision. His simply applied of Scottish law that allows prisoners within 3 months of their death bed can be granted the chance to live out their lives at home with their families. He was addament that the decision to let him go had nothing to do with any considerations that he was wrongly convicted. He also denied any political considerations. The US Administration was against the decision. The fact the Muslim prisoner was released on the eve of Ramadan must have been purely coinicidental. Another important fact MacAskill pointed out was that there was some sort of custody arrangement. It sounded like he will have some form of house arrest enforced by Libyan officials.
Some people are outraged that comopassion is being shown to someone who's crime had none for others. Those who support the decision are buying into the compassionate grounds arguement or the belief that Al-Megrahi is the victim of miscarriage of justice. Has it reached the point where terrorism is scene as a form of political expression as opposed to one of the most despicable forms of murder.
When Karla Holmolka was let out of jail, there was outrage that she served out her entire 12 year sentence. Paul Bernardo is technically eligible to apply for probation next year. Any attempts to be released on bail would be met with equal outrage. This murderer/rapist would not recieve any compation to enjoy the end of his life even on his death bed.
Next week Gilad Shalit will spend his 4th birthday since being prisoner. He has been denied the most basic level of human rights under the Geneva Convention. He has been denied access by the Red Cross and communication with his family. Hamas frequently uses his captivity to taunt Israelis. World leaders have at most paid minimal lip service for his freedom.
The price for Shalit is well known and unchanged. Approximatly 1000 Palestinians serving various sentences for crimes against Israel. So far Israel has balked at including prisoners that have commiteted terrorist attacks similar to those of Al-Megrah. They are serving multiple life sentences in some case dozens for the number of Israelis they have been convicted of killing. Hamas is willing things out until they get the deal they want.
When Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up it was considered an unforgivable crime. The very notion that someone could kill 270 people and be released from jail was inconceivable. Now being a murderer does not have the same stigma, no matter how much damage was caused. They are subject to the same mercy as other who have commited much lesser crimes.
Justice Secretary MacAskill may sleep well tonight proud of his ability to show compassion to others. His decision just reaffirms that terrorism is no different than other serious crimes. Taking the stigma out of being a terrorist just makes it that much easier for the perpetrators of future attacks to not fear being brought to justice.