The primate of Scotland, Keith Cardinal O’Brien, today in the newspaper Scotland on Sunday, decried the attempts by the United States Senate to investigate the freeing of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, who was convicted of the bombing on January 31, 2001, and sentenced to life imprisonment. On August 20, 2009 al-Megrahi was released by the Scottish government to Libya, ostensibly on the compassionate grounds that he was dying of prostate cancer.
The text of the Cardinal’s article may be read here.
His argument basically consists of allegations that America has a “Culture of Vengeance” since we have the death penalty, while the Scottish justice system embraces compassion as demonstrated by the freeing of the Lockerbie bomber.
There is no polite way to put this. The Cardinal’s article is rubbish from beginning to end.
1. There is very good evidence that compassion actually played no role in the freeing of the Lockerbie bomber, but rather that the Brits were concerned about the fate of a then upcoming oil contract between British Petroleum and the Libyan government. Read all about it here.
2. The Lockerbie bomber is alive and well, as opposed to his victims who remain dead. Last year Professor Karol Sikora, Dean of Medicine at Buckingham University, said the bomber had three months to live prior to his release. Now the bomber could survive another ten years or more according to Sikora. Read Sikora’s updated prognosis on the bomber here. Of course Professor Sikora was compensated for his opinion by the Libyan government. Three months was crucial since under Scottish law that represented the greatest life expectancy if a compassionate release was to be granted. Go here to read the details. Cardinal O’Brien can you say “scam” and “sucker”?
3. Travesties like the release of the Lockerbie bomber are of course the best argument for the death penalty. The man murders 270 men, women and children. He is sentenced to life imprisonment. He serves less than nine years, is released under suspicious circumstances and is now enjoying life in Libya. That the Cardinal fails to see that none of this has anything to do with either justice or compassion is bleakly funny in a very dark sort of way. That he condemns the US while praising the Scottish government in this matter is worthy of a Monty Python skit.