The note added: “Nevertheless, if Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the US position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose.”
Mr LeBaron added that freeing the bomber and making him live in Scotland “would mitigate a number of the strong concerns we have expressed with regard to Megrahi’s release”.
The US administration lobbied the Scottish government more strongly against sending Megrahi home, under a prisoner transfer agreement signed by the British and Libyan governments, in a deal now known to have been linked to a pound stg. 550 million oil contract for BP.
It claimed this would flout a decade-old agreement between Britain and the US that anyone convicted of the bombing would serve their sentence in a Scottish prison. Megrahi was released by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill on the grounds that he had three months to live, making his sentence effectively spent.
You know, if he was released on compassionate grounds, he had served the entirety of his legal sentence. It didn’t flout the agreement; the Brits/ Scots just moved the goal posts of what the U.S. had agreed to, breaking the spirit but not the letter of the words.
It still stinks to high heaven, doesn’t it?
In addition, Scotland had no authority to allow this man to leave the country’s borders. (Scotland is not a country; the United Kingdom, however, is.) The U.K. government probably said something like, “Well, he’s been released, his sentence is de facto commuted, we have no grounds to hold him, so *whistling* guess we’ll have to let him go to Libya.” So rather than transfer him to a Libyan jail, the end result was to transfer him to Libya as a free man, which is certainly not what even the Obama administration was privately suggesting (and to this day, refusing to allow the private suggestions to be published so that Scotland can defend itself against public charges by the U.S. Senate).
I’m not sure you can call Straw’s refusing to subject himself to interrogation by a legislative body of a former colony as if the U.K. is a subservient nation (even Canada wouldn’t do that) should be called a “snub” but, the problems are twofold.
- The Obama admin opened the door to compassionate release without grasping the full consequences of that action.
- The U.K. government found a legalistic, back door, backhanded method to massively embarrass and humiliate the American government, flaunting the freedom of a man convicted of killing American citizens.
Not much to say about the people demanding an inquiry so that the convicted bomber can have his conviction expunged from his record because they think the trial was a conspiracy and railroading, except: man, you really can’t please anybody, can you.