The amazing mind of Kenny MacAskill

The case of the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber, Al-Megrahi, has been going around my head for a few days, and, having now heard and read Kenny MacAskill’s (the Scottish justice secretary’s) statement today, I thought I would respond to some of his comments, as though I were face to face with him. His comments are italicised.

Scotland will forever remember the crime that has been perpetrated against our people and those from many other lands. The pain and suffering will remain forever. Some hurt can never heal. Some scars can never fade. Those who have been bereaved cannot be expected to forget, let alone forgive. Their pain runs deep and the wounds remain.

But clearly none of this matters.

However, Mr Al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule. It is terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die.

Please define this ‘higher power’ in proven legal terms for the benefit of those of us who don’t have imaginary friends, before you make decisions based on its unproven existence. We are all going to die. What is your point?

In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people. The perpetration of an atrocity and outrage cannot and should not be a basis for losing sight of who we are, the values we seek to uphold, and the faith and beliefs by which we seek to live.

The values many of us seek to hold are those of justice, and yes, for some of us, those of vengeance. Our justice system (in the UK and Scotland) serves three purposes – punishment, reform, and deterrence. Given that Al Megrahi is going to die, his release has flown in the face of the first of these, has no bearing on the second, and certainly sends out the wrong message on the third.

Mr Al-Megrahi did not show his victims any comfort or compassion. They were not allowed to return to the bosom of their families to see out their lives, let alone their dying days. No compassion was shown by him to them.

So why on earth release him, when you hurt so many of these poor people by doing so? Is compassion for one convicted mass murderer really more important than compassion for so many other innocent people? What is that drives people like you to blindly empathise with prisoners over victims?

But, that alone is not a reason for us to deny compassion to him and his family in his final days.

Yes, it is.

Our justice system demands that judgement be imposed but compassion be available. Our beliefs dictate that justice be served, but mercy be shown. Compassion and mercy are about upholding the beliefs that we seek to live by, remaining true to our values as a people. No matter the severity of the provocation or the atrocity perpetrated.

We’ll have to agree to disagree there. I believe there are levels of ‘atrocity perpetrated’. I would not rate the murder by a wife of an abusive husband on the same scale as the inventive and sadistic work of Dr. Josef Mengele, or a man who blows up a plane, killing 270 people and destroying thousands of lives in the process.

It is a matter of great regret that Mr Megrahi was received in such an inappropriate manner. It showed no compassion or sensitivity to the families of the 270 victims of Lockerbie… Assurances had been given by the Libyan government that any return would be dealt with in a low-key and sensitive fashion.

This clearly shows how utterly ignorant you are. I have been told by three people with very great experience of the Arab world (one of them an Arab himself), that lying is completely culturally acceptable within Arab culture. I therefore accept that this is the reality and conduct my life with this in mind. I am gob-smacked that this caused any surprise to a politician. It is more than ‘great regret’… it was entirely predictable and you must hold personal responsibility for having shown "no compassion or sensitivity to the families of the 270 victims of Lockerbie". You made the decision. Now I hope you can live with it.

You are a very stupid, naive, insensitive, and incompetent politician. Now go to your room and stay there.