Reuters top ten news stories delivered to your inbox each day.
You are here:
Business & Finance
The Great Debate
Do More With Reuters
Make Reuters My Homepage
Support (Customer Zone)
About Thomson Reuters
Scottish minister defends Lockerbie bomber release
Mon Aug 24, 2009 3:20pm EDT
Email | Print |
| Reprints | Single Page
By Ian Mackenzie
EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland's justice secretary on Monday defended his decision to free the Lockerbie bomber on humanitarian grounds in the face of severe criticism from the United States government and relatives of U.S. victims.
Addressing an emergency meeting of the Scottish parliament, Kenny MacAskill rejected suggestions from opponents that he had bowed to political or economic pressure.
But MacAskill, who freed Abdel Basset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds because he is dying of cancer, criticized Libya for the celebrations that greeted his return to Tripoli.
"A decision had to be made," MacAskill told the packed chamber in the Scottish capital. "It was based on the law of Scotland, and the values I believe we seek to uphold. It was not based on political, diplomatic or economic considerations."
Relatives of U.S. victims have strongly condemned the Scottish government over its decision to release Megrahi, 57, the only person convicted of the bombing of the Pan Am jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people.
The British government has denied wanting Megrahi to be freed to bolster diplomatic and commercial ties with Libya, which has the biggest oil reserves in Africa. Oil giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell have signed big exploration deals with Libya.
Critics say the British government has allowed the Scottish authorities, which have devolved powers and a separate legal system, to take the blame for the release and has chosen not to make its own position clear.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose ruling Labour Party lost to the Scottish National Party in elections in Scotland in 2007, has made no comment on the decision. His spokesman said it was a matter for the devolved Scottish government.
Megrahi flew home from Scotland on Thursday and was greeted in the Libyan capital by more than 1,000 people cheering and waving Libyan and Scottish flags.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Megrahi's warm welcome in Libya was "disgusting," while FBI director Robert Mueller said the release "makes a mockery of the rule of law (and) gives comfort to terrorists."
Many of the Lockerbie victims were Americans. Critics of the Scottish decision have set up a website urging Americans to "boycott Scotland." U.S. tourists are the leading overseas visitors to Scotland by number and spend about 257 million pounds ($424 million) a year, more than any other nationality.
The White House underscored its anger on Monday over the welcome given to Megrahi, but stopped short of saying its relationship with Tripoli had changed.
"The President's view is that ... it was disgusting to see a convicted terrorist welcomed the way that he was in Libya," Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said during a briefing in Massachusetts, where Obama is on holiday on the island of Martha's Vineyard.
"But in terms of our relationship (with Libya) we will just work on a case-by-case basis on whatever is appropriate going forward." Continued...
View article on single page
paidContent - All-Sports Directory Fanbase Launches With $5 Million In Funding
Also on Reuters
Blog: A time lapse view of a day at the White House
Powering Europe from the Sahara: miracle or mirage?
Blog: Wall Street pay: Is it your right to know?
More International News
Afghan minister claims Karzai poll win, U.N. says wait
Bus bombings south of Baghdad kill at least 11
Flames near Athens recede after 3-day inferno
Israel PM expects no breakthroughs in London talks
Sudan mulls immunity for aid workers' kidnappers
More International News...
Minister defends al-Megrahi release
Q+A: Libya thanks Britain for Lockerbie bomber release
A selection of our best photos from the past 24 hours. Slideshow
Most Popular on Reuters
Suspect in U.S. model murder found dead in Canada
Madoff dying of cancer, fellow inmates say-NY Post
Madoff not diagnosed with cancer: Bureau of Prisons
Africa wants $67 bln a year in global warming funds
Malaysian state to cane woman after Ramadan | Video
UPDATE 2-Venezuelan wins sixth Miss Universe crown
Afghan conflict serious, 'deteriorating'-Mullen
Nokia to enter PC industry with first netbook
Woman sues zoo over splashing dolphins
Venezuelan wins sixth Miss Universe crown
Most Popular Articles RSS Feed
First family begin first vacation
Hurricane Bill brings rain to U.S.
South Korea mourns former President
Castro appears on TV
Nuns help douse Greece wildfires
Huge win for mystery lotto player
Caning postponed for Malaysian woman
Afghan challenger alleges fraud
Afghan journalist killed in Pakistan
Yemen govt says it killed 100 rebels
Most Popular Videos RSS Feed
Afghanistan and Pakistan
Pakistanis rally to support refugees
Pakistanis rally to help those fleeing the Tabliban, in one of the biggest internal displacements in recent times. Full Article
Aid workers hit hard by Pakistan's "asymmetrical war"
Pakistan's displaced lament Ramadan in camps
Beyond the Afghan election
Pakistan says it has no favorite and only wants stability in its western neighbor, but analysts said it would prefer to see a victory for incumbent President Hamid Karzai. Full Article
Slideshow: Afghans at the polls
Women seek refuge in Afghanistan
Patooni Muhanna, who works at a women’s shelter in Kabul says that despite some positive changes, domestic violence and self-immolation are still concerns. Video
Help and Contact Us |
Advertise With Us |
Journalism Handbook |
Site Index |
Thomson Reuters Corporate:
Professional Products |
Professional Products Support |
About Thomson Reuters |
Latin America |
United Kingdom |
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.