Scottish Church Official Supports Release of Libyan Bomber


EDINBURGH, Scotland (RNS/ENInews) The Scottish government was right to show compassion and to release the Libyan man convicted of the 1988 bombing of PanAm flight 103 over Scotland, an official of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland has said.

“The principle behind the release of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi a year ago was right, compassion, and my views haven’t changed,” the Rev. Ian Galloway, the convener of the church’s Church and Society Council, told ENInews.

Al-Megrahi was sentenced in 2001 to a minimum of 27 years in prison for the December 1988 bombing, which killed 270 people in the air and on the ground in the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

He was released by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds on Aug. 20, 2009 after medical reports suggested he was terminally ill with cancer.

“What has changed is that the man is still alive,” said Galloway. “It was originally thought that because of his prostate cancer he had only about three months to live. But it’s never possible to gauge a person’s life and it’s not our job to do that. The decision to release him was correct.”

Galloway was speaking as Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, faced pressure from the four U.S. senators from New York and New Jersey for an independent probe into the decision to free al-Megrahi.

“Until such an inquiry is launched, we will not stand by as an injustice remains very much alive in a villa in Tripoli. The American people—and, indeed, the people of 21 nations who suffered the loss of their beloved ones—require nothing less,” wrote New York’s Kristen Gillibrand and Charles Schumer and New Jersey’s Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, all Democrats.

Support for the decision to release al-Megrahi also came from the Rev. John F. Mosey, an Assemblies of God minister in northwest England whose 19-year-old daughter, Helga, died in the bombing.

“I believe the Scottish government was right to release the Lockerbie bomber on grounds of compassion,” he told ENInews. “As for a full probe into what really happened on 21 December 1988 ... I would welcome that very much indeed and so would a lot of other people all over the world.”

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