Martin Bright

The Great Libya Folly

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The Guardian has arranged a group of "leading thinkers" to give their views on the release of Abdelbasset al-Megrahi from prison on compassionate grounds. There is a quite a split in the liberal establishment over this issue.

I find myself completely in agreement with Geoffrey Roberston QC. Unfortunately this doesn't appear to be online, which is a real shame. But his first paragraph sums up my feelings exactly:

"It seems to me an utter perversion of the maning of compassion, both in law and morality, to suggest that an unrepentant, mass murderer of entirely innocent human beings should not be required to end his life in prison."

He also makes an important point about the morally corrupt thinking behind Kenny MacAskill's bizarre


"The decision to release him for what any person of any intelligence at all would forsee as a hero's welcome in Libya was lacking in compassion to every victim of terrorism and makes an absurdity of the principle of punishment as a detterent."

Those who approved this decision should also read the words of Libyan novelist Hisham Matar, the author of In the Country of Men.

"I am imagining my father today. For the past 20 years he has been a political prisoner in Libya. The Libyan government continues to deny his existence. This even though Amnesty International has documented the case. In this time he has not been able to see or communicate with anyone outside the prison. Then I think of him listening to the celebrations of the prison guards at the news of al-Megrahi's rturn. The prisoners might have been given presents to make the occasion. Then I think of al-Megrahi's children welcoming him home."

The Libyan regime funded IRA terrorism, pursued and murdered its dissidents on the streets of European cities and is the only foreign government I know that is responsible for the killing of a British policewoman.

This was a truly dark day for the reputation of this country.