Monday, August 17, 2009


Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi
The Scottish Government will decide Megrahi's fate within days

The Scottish Government will deliver a decision on the fate of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing within the next two weeks.

A spokeswoman said Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill had only received final submissions and advice on Friday.

He is due to decide whether Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi can be freed or allowed to serve out his jail term in Libya.

Political pressure has been mounting for an urgent statement on the issue to be made to the Scottish Parliament.

Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, has applied for either release on compassionate grounds or a transfer to a Libyan jail.

An application was lodged last week to drop his appeal against conviction, a move which could clear the way for the second course of action.

There have also been reports that the Scottish Government intends to release him due to his health problems.

However, it has consistently denied that Mr MacAskill had reached any verdict.

A spokeswoman said: "He will make an announcement as soon as possible.

"No date has been set for that announcement because he hasn't reached a decision and that is still the position. "We are hoping to have it as soon as possible - certainly within the next couple of weeks."

Labour's Scottish justice spokesman Richard Baker has called for "due consideration" to be given to recalling the Scottish Parliament for a statement on the subject.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott is also backing such a move.

"I've spoken this morning to the presiding officer asking for a recall of parliament, I hope he'll consider that," he said.

"But I do think it's very important that MSPs have an opportunity to ask the first minister what in heaven's name he's doing?"

He said the issue was being "very incompetently handled".

Scottish Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken said an immediate decision needed to be taken on Megrahi's future.

He added: "When it is, the First Minister must recall the Scottish Parliament to justify his actions."

Last week the BBC reported that it understood Megrahi would soon be released on compassionate grounds.

This prompted a mixed reaction from relatives and renewed political opposition from the US.

It was subsequently revealed that the Libyan had applied to drop his second appeal against his conviction.

That led to claims that Megrahi had been put under pressure to abandon his efforts to clear his name.

A court hearing will take place in Edinburgh on Tuesday into his application to drop his appeal.

If that takes place, it would remove one potential obstacle to his transfer to a prison in Libya.

Megrahi is currently serving a life sentence with a minimum of 27 years after being convicted in 2001 of the 1988 bombing which killed 270 people.




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