Scottish judge Kenny MacAskill released Pan Am bomber Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi on the grounds of “compassion” for the criminal with terminal prostate cancer. The ruling was also based on the speculation by several British reporters that the man was wrongly convicted. The 57-year-old former Libyan intelligence agent was allowed to return home after serving 8 years of a life sentence on charges of murdering 270 people on board the Pan Am flight in Lockerbie, Britain. The bombing occurred December 21, 1988–4 days before Christmas. Ali al-Megrahi arrived back in Libya yesterday to cheering crowds, blockaded roads, and a hero’s welcome.
Says the judge:
A prisoner transfer application has been submitted by the Government of Libya seeking the transfer of Mr Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi. The man convicted of those offences in the Scottish courts. He has also now sought to be released on compassionate grounds due to his prostate cancer that is terminal.
On 24 July 2009 I received an application from Mr Al-Megrahi for compassionate release. He was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer in September 2008. I have been regularly updated as to the progression of his illness. I have received numerous comprehensive medical reports including the opinions of consultants who have been treating him. It is quite clear to the medical experts that he has a terminal illness, and indeed that there has recently been a significant deterioration in his health.
Judge MacAskill has been using media outlets to explain his decision:
This is a shame. Why can’t this man live out his sentence in jail, with medical coverage, as most criminals must do? Why was he given a pass? How compassionate was this man, when he plotted to kill all those people? These questions must sting the hearts of those that lost their loved ones.
And Judge xxx full speech here.