There is currently a huge amount of over-heated rhetoric on the airwaves and in the blogosphere, in reaction to the Scottish court’s decision to release convicted Libyan mass-bomber Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi before the end of his sentence, on compassionate/health grounds.
Whether viewed as over-heated or otherwise, there is certainly a huge amount of debate taking place in both the mainstream media and the blogosphere regarding the release of the only man ever convicted over the bombing of Pam Am flight 103, Libyan Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi.
The “Lockerbie bomber” was sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the 1988 bombing of the plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 people died. He is suffering from terminal prostrate cancer, and with less than three months to live, the Scottish Government released him on compassionate grounds.
His release has been met with controversy and strong reactions, and has brought up a number of related issues and debates.
What has been called in the mainstream press the “hero's welcome” that Megrahi received upon his return to Libya has been met with particular criticism in the US and UK press. But what of the reactions on the web?
rfitzgibbon, tweeting from the US, displays a sentiment echoed by many US citizens active online:
Though he remains non-committal regarding the guilt of Megrahi, Anglo-Libyan writing on his blog of the same name was also less than pleased with Megrahi's airport reception. He states:
Al-Megrahi returned … to Libya, I too was hoping his return to Libya would be a low key even but he was received as a hero!
I do not know if he is guilty of this horrible crime but this man was convicted of killing 270 innocent civilians yet the Libyan authorities showed how distasteful they are at a time when the victim's families were watching in pain, to most of them this is not acceptable.
He commends the decision taken by the Scottish government (though, like many, is suspicious of the reasons behind it), and is critical of the behaviour of the Libyan authorities in handling the issue:
The Scottish government did take a courageous step by releasing Al-Megrahi to spend his last days with his family, whether they did it for compassionate reasons or purely for business is for you to decide.
If he was innocent, he should have stayed and died fighting to clear his name and the Libyan authorities have embarrassed themselves yet again
Adam White, tweeting from the UK suggests the gathered crowd may not be quite the “hero's welcome” it is presumed to be:
And Syrianews echoes this sentiment in justifying the welcome received:
Megrahi's conviction was controversial from the start, and the question of his guilt has been brought up anew since his release. Some see the abandonment of his appeal – a presumed condition of his release by many,- as a means of concealing his wrongful conviction.
Ibn Kafka, commenting on this post, is not keen on the idea of a convicted man being released, but highlights the doubts over Megrahi's guilt :
if indeed he’s guilty of the Lockerbie bombing, he should die in prison or on the gallows. I’m am more worried at the soundness of his conviction in the first place, what with the persisting rumors on Syrian involvement.
Others see Megrahi as a scapegoat offered by Libya. The Angry Arab, in response to Hillary Clinton's condemnation of the Scottish decision, accuses the US of “feigning mild outrage” :
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had worked strongly against the decision, saying it would be “absolutely wrong” to release Mr. Megrahi.” Oh, please spare me your fake sense of moral uprightness. Your government has been cuddling the real master-terrorist Qadhdhafi, who ordered the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103.
Indeed the media coverage of this case is getting bigger and bigger and more issues are being uprooted than might have been initially anticipated. Many are beginning to call for a fresh inquiry into the whole affair, amidst accusations of hidden agendas and secret deals.
If things carry on as they have done for the past few days, al-Megrahi/Lockerbie will soon become such a cause celebre that it will be essential reading for students of politics and or history even at secondary level. The fig leaves in Westminster, and elsewhere, are beginning to look distinctly diseased. Thank you also to Saif al-Islam for your timely contribution on this subject today – perhaps dreams of an enquiry might not be as fantastical as I had previously thought after all.
While reader Nennt mich einfach Adam! states
Whatever the intentions of the various players are or were – the only answer can be an inquiry into the whole Lockerbie affair.