Lockerbie families raise doubts as Scotland defends release
Scotland's justice minister, and his party, are in the hot seat after releasing a man convicted of murdering 270. Victims' families demand more information.
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Mr. Duggan calls the report's concern for Megrahi's "mental condition and how he misses his family... really galling. He's in jail for mass-murder. He's not supposed to wake up every day full of joy."Skip to next paragraph
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Duggan says that Megrahi was "hardly being detained in a dungeon," pointing out the prison was kitted out with cable television at Libyan expense, that Megrahi had access to a kitchen, and that his family had been allowed to live in Scotland so they could visit the prison, though they eventually elected to go home.
Outrage at hero's welcome
Duggan says the victims families were "outraged" by the footage of Megrahi's jubilant return home, with cheering crowds waving Scottish and Libyan flags as he stepped off the plane in Tripoli to be embraced by Saif al-Islam, one of Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi's sons (video of his hero's welcome can be seen here).
Megrahi's "conviction and imprisonment was a very small measure of justice and they’re now taking that one guy and letting him go," says Duggan. He says not only victims' families but the community of prosecutors and investigators who worked to convict Megrahi in the US, Scotland, and elsewhere "are hurt and angry and disgusted."
"I was on the presidential commission that was appointed by [President George H. W. Bush] to investigate the bombing and was the liason for the families," says Duggan. "Like a lot of people that get involved in this, I didn't want to let it go until there was closure. Now, there will never be any closure."
MacAskill trusted Libyan assurances
MacAskill, a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP) headed by First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, protested at the Scottish parliament today that he had received – and trusted – Libyan assurances that Megrahi, who served just 8 years of a life sentence, would not be celebrated on his return home.
"It is a matter of great regret that [Megrahi] was received in such an inappropriate manner,'' MacAskill said. "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."
But he still took withering criticism, with Iain Gray, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, saying: "The Cabinet secretary has mishandled this whole affair from start to finish. Between the scenes of triumph in Tripoli and the pain and anger at home and abroad, is there nothing [MacAskill] now regrets about his decision and the way it was reached?" Duggan said it was clear the celebrations had been planned well in advance.