Commentary Magazine


Al-Megrahi and a “Minor” Oil Deal

True to form, London’s Sunday Times revealed yesterday that the release of the Lockerbie bomber might have to do with a “minor” oil deal — worth a reported 15 billion British pounds.

Her Majesty’s government has now provided an elaborate response to the accusation: yes, the government agreed to include the Lockerbie bomber in a PTA (Prisoner Transfer Agreement), which would have made Abdelbaset al-Megrahi eligible for transfer to Libya, where he would have to complete his sentence. Why would Mr. al-Megrahi want to end his life in a Libyan jail, as opposed to the Internet- and TV-equipped comfortable Scottish jailhouse that was hosting him remains a mystery. Regardless, HM’s government agreed to the inclusion of al-Megrahi into the PTA. But the final decision was up to Scotland, whose government rejected the PTA application.

Now, as we know, al-Megrahi was released on “compassionate grounds.” Still, something remains unclear. The British government wanted to release him to a Libyan jail (how long do you think he’d stay, once he arrived in Tripoli?), but the Scottish government thought the notion unbecoming. So the Scottish government rejected al-Megrahi’s inclusion in the PTA with Libya and released him instead on the aforementioned compassionate grounds.

Jack Straw, speaking this morning on CNN, said that “this debate is academic” because, clearly, it was not under his jurisdiction to release the man — it was his Scottish counterpart’s call.

Fair enough — but whose jurisdiction is it to control the international borders of the UK? Do we really believe that because the Scottish justice minister told his justice system to release al-Megrahi that British airport authorities, immigration police, and so on could not stop him at the international border?

And while we’re at it, enough with the shock about the hero’s welcome at Tripoli’s airport. Muammar Qaddafi is an Arab dictator. What’s more to add to this pity?

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