Lockerbie - Justice must be seen to be done

'The suspicion lingers that this was not a decision based on facts, but the facts were found to fit a decision already taken and leaked to the Libyans.' (Scottish Conservative spokesman John Lamont)

As the struggle in Libya goes on amidst reports of victory against the Gaddafi regime before much longer, many will see the success as a triumph over oppression. But many will be reminded that we are now fast approaching the second anniversary of the early release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, on compassionate grounds. Many of the relatives of victims of the bombing hold out the hope that, should Gaddafi's regime should fall, they will discover more about the unanswered questions, not just regarding the original conviction, but about the legal processes that were started but left unfinished when the release was made.

 

The recent Arab uprisings in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are held out to be timely reminders of what can happen if autocratic regimes suppress their peoples and deny them the rights we hold dear in the West including the freedom of speech and right to justice. We look elsewhere around the world and become proud of our democracy even with all its' faults.

 

One of the problems of the Lockerbie bombing and what followed is the lack of justice for the victims and their families. How can they bring closure with so many theories and doubts expressed about the legal processes involved? At the same time we are reminded of the great wrong perpetrated on the 270 people that died every time we see those photographs of the crash site taken all those years ago. The case is surrounded by unspeakable tragedy in the sense that some relatives are not confident about the original verdict and others are convinced of not only Megrahi's guilt but that it was a mistake to release him.

 

It is hard to believe that the bombing of Pan Am 103 happened just before Christmas in 1988. Many of today's A level law students were not even alive at the time.

 

There are times when a campaign for justice for a victim or victims can highlight the need for a criminal justice system that can meet the needs of our society – either through the robustness and fairness of the processes involved or in the appropriateness of the punishment handed out.

 

Unfortunately there may be a danger that the Lockerbie bombing, with the passing of time, is seen as synonymous, with what may happen if justice is not “seen to be done” by all of those affected by what happened.

 

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