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Tags Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi , Lockerbie bombing

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Old 26th February 2010, 04:52 AM   #121
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If you simply want to argue the point in the abstract, I think it's a pity that the Megrahi case was cited at all. A case that has so many almost unique features is not a good starting point for a discussion of general principles.
  • A high-profile case of international significance with feelings running unusually high
  • A prisoner detained 5000 miles from home and family, in an alien culture
  • A case which has been formally declared to be a possible miscarriage of justice
For the sensible consideration of principle, why not choose something a bit closer to the norm? Why aren't we having the discussion with Ronnie Biggs as an example, say?

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Old 26th February 2010, 05:01 AM   #122
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Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
Sorry about the misunderstanding. But I don't think dtugg means it that way. He does think they should have died in prison.

He simply is not outraged at an event that happened 60 years ago because if we'd start with that, we'd all be constantly outraged.

Rage is something that one usually feels for a limited time, when an event is fresh, like in the case of the release of this mass murderer.
Well, I tend to reserve actual rage for things that impact me or my loved ones personally. Anger /outrage (as in a sense of injustice/frustration) over external matters I can still manage, and can recognise justice and injustice - regardless of where, when or to who they happen/happened.

I was very interested in reading the article linked just above to see the complaining that families of those who died will be outraged at this news. Well, if the media didn't keep dredging it up, in such emotive terms, then the families could possibly find it a little easier to get on with their own lives and not have this dragged up and rubbed raw in front of them continually.

I notice there are no quotes from those families so we are encouraged by the author to be outraged on their behalfs - something I detest about modern reporting. The aim is supposed to be responsible reporting but too often is actually nothing less than mob-mongering.
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Old 26th February 2010, 05:05 AM   #123
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
If you simply want to argue the point in the abstract, I think it's a pity that the Megrahi case was cited at all. A case that has so many almost unique features is not a good starting point for a discussion of general principles.
  • A high-profile case of international significance with feelings running unusually high
  • A prisoner detained 5000 miles from home and family, in an alien culture
  • A case which has been formally declared to be a possible miscarriage of justice
For the sensible consideration of principle, why not choose something a bit closer to the norm? Why aren't we having the discussion with Ronnie Biggs as an example, say?

Rolfe.
It's not about abstract arguing Rolfe, it is arguing about his release and the legislation as it was applied in this case.

We know from the statement from the Minister that there was no consideration at all to ongoing appeals or any concerns about the safety of the conviction, his release was simply on the grounds of compassionate release.

What people who are against his release are arguing for is that the legislation should take into account the severity of the crime and I don't think anyone could argue that the crime he was convicted of (and the conviction for which he was granted compassionate release) was a terrible crime that killed hundreds of people.

Now it appears that the legislation does not allow the minister take into consideration the severity of the crime, which I think is weakness of the system, I don't think there should be an automatic release on compassionate grounds just because someone is dying and I also don't want politicians to make the decisions without having to apply some objective standards.

As for the repeated bringing of Ronnie Biggs into this. Ronnie Biggs was originally convicted for his part in a robbery, he then escaped and spent many years "on the run" (and ended a job I really loved but I don't think that should be held against him) before ending up again as a prisoner. So what is the useful comparison between the compassionate release of a convicted robber and a convicted murder of hundreds of people?
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Last edited by Darat; 26th February 2010 at 05:08 AM. Reason: ETA to add a sentence or two
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Old 26th February 2010, 05:39 AM   #124
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
We know from the statement from the Minister that there was no consideration at all to ongoing appeals or any concerns about the safety of the conviction, his release was simply on the grounds of compassionate release.
I don't think it's the compassionate release part that's troublesome. It's the "three months to live" part that stinks to high heaven. The Scottish government must have known that there is no way to determine how long a terminally ill person will live. Who were the doctors who made this determination, why did they make it and why did the Scottish government listen to them?
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Old 26th February 2010, 05:49 AM   #125
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Originally Posted by Alt+F4 View Post
I don't think it's the compassionate release part that's troublesome. It's the "three months to live" part that stinks to high heaven. The Scottish government must have known that there is no way to determine how long a terminally ill person will live. Who were the doctors who made this determination, why did they make it and why did the Scottish government listen to them?
The Minister did provide those details at the time of the decision:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/This...kerbiedecision

Quote:
...snip...

Mr Al-Megrahi was examined by Scottish Prison Service doctors on 3 August. A report dated 10 August from the Director of Health and Care for the Scottish Prison Service indicates that a 3 month prognosis is now a reasonable estimate. The advice they have provided is based not only on their own physical examination but draws on the opinion of other specialists and consultants who have been involved in his care and treatment. He may die sooner - he may live longer.

...snip...
And I remember at the time one of the consultants was on the radio discussing his diagnosis and how it was of course not a guaranteed "death date".

The problem of obtaining a precise date of death is always going to exist no matter the prisoner (or their crime) so I can't see what more you could do then have an expert or experts review the case and give their estimate?
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Old 26th February 2010, 06:05 AM   #126
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I think some of the disagreement here comes from the angle you are looking at it. Let's say you have an opinion that compassionate release should take into account severity of crime and this case is the one that has brought that to the fore. Now if you are arguing that the law should already be like that, then you are right Darat, the possibility of innocence should not suddenly also become a criteria for decision in release. However, I think Rolfe is arguing something slightly different. She is saying that given that the law does not currently allow for severity of crime to be a factor in granting release, then we should not use a case that was at that time granted leave to appeal (as a possible miscarriage of justice) as the case which motivates us to change any rules.

That make sense to anyone?
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Old 26th February 2010, 06:08 AM   #127
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
I think some of the disagreement here comes from the angle you are looking at it. Let's say you have an opinion that compassionate release should take into account severity of crime and this case is the one that has brought that to the fore. Now if you are arguing that the law should already be like that, then you are right Darat, the possibility of innocence should not suddenly also become a criteria for decision in release. However, I think Rolfe is arguing something slightly different. She is saying that given that the law does not currently allow for severity of crime to be a factor in granting release, then we should not use a case that was at that time granted leave to appeal (as a possible miscarriage of justice) as the case which motivates us to change any rules.

That make sense to anyone?
Makes sense to me, so you may want to consider rewriting it...
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Old 26th February 2010, 06:15 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
She is saying that given that the law does not currently allow for severity of crime to be a factor in granting release, then we should not use a case that was at that time granted leave to appeal (as a possible miscarriage of justice) as the case which motivates us to change any rules.
I agree. I think what should be the motivating factor in changing the law should not be possible innocence or the severity of the crime(s) but rather the fact that "three months to live" is almost impossible to determine.

What would be so terrible about waiting for another three months after medical "experts" said there were only three months left?

I'd be curious to know how long other Scottish criminals lived after being granted a compassionate release. Wouldn't they have been treated by the same prison doctors as al-Megrahi?
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Old 26th February 2010, 06:22 AM   #129
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I don't actually think length of time left should be a criterion at all. I think the criterion should be whether the patient has reached a stage of their illness where they can no longer be treated and kept comfortable (ie absence of terrible pain) in the prison environment, and this situation is unlikely to change. If it is likely to change (ie an acute condition), they should just be transferred (with guards) to a hospital where they can be treated, and then returned to prison. If it is chronic and deteriorating (ie they are in the end stages of a terminal illness), they should get compassionate release.
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Old 26th February 2010, 06:23 AM   #130
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Makes sense to me, so you may want to consider rewriting it...
I'm sorry, I shall try to be more incomprehensible in future.
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Old 26th February 2010, 06:30 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
I don't actually think length of time left should be a criterion at all. I think the criterion should be whether the patient has reached a stage of their illness where they can no longer be treated and kept comfortable (ie absence of terrible pain) in the prison environment, and this situation is unlikely to change. If it is likely to change (ie an acute condition), they should just be transferred (with guards) to a hospital where they can be treated, and then returned to prison. If it is chronic and deteriorating (ie they are in the end stages of a terminal illness), they should get compassionate release.
I cannot say that this is not very close to my own views.
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Old 26th February 2010, 06:50 AM   #132
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
It's not about abstract arguing Rolfe, it is arguing about his release and the legislation as it was applied in this case.

We know from the statement from the Minister that there was no consideration at all to ongoing appeals or any concerns about the safety of the conviction, his release was simply on the grounds of compassionate release.

That is correct. As the law stands, the severity of the crime is not a consideration. So, this was not taken into consideration. Accordingly, there was no need to consider the other point, that the case was officially recognised as being a possible miscarriage of justice.

To argue that the severity of the crime should have been taken into consideration, even though it wasn't, but then to continue to maintain that the possibility of miscarriage of justice should not then be taken into consideration, simply because it wasn't, is just special pleading.

Originally Posted by Darat View Post
What people who are against his release are arguing for is that the legislation should take into account the severity of the crime and I don't think anyone could argue that the crime he was convicted of (and the conviction for which he was granted compassionate release) was a terrible crime that killed hundreds of people.

Now it appears that the legislation does not allow the minister take into consideration the severity of the crime, which I think is weakness of the system, I don't think there should be an automatic release on compassionate grounds just because someone is dying and I also don't want politicians to make the decisions without having to apply some objective standards.

You're now going back to the abstract consideration of whether the current rules are correct. I've already given my abstract reasons for believing that they are, on balance.

I then point out, yet again, that if the rules allow for compassionate release to be denied on the grounds that the offence was particularly serious, then it also becomes relevant to consider other factors. That the prisoner is 5000 miles from his home and family in an alien culture, and that his case has been officially recognised as a possible miscarriage of justice.

If indeed the decision had been made in the way you're advancing, that is to deny release because of the severity of the crime, I would definitely be advancing these other mitigating factors.

While I can appreciate the utility of having the abstract discussion about whether or not the current procedure is correct, why do you believe that the acknowledged possibility of this particular prisoner being actually innocent isn't something that needs to be considered? This seems a remarkably blinkered outlook.

Originally Posted by Darat View Post
As for the repeated bringing of Ronnie Biggs into this. Ronnie Biggs was originally convicted for his part in a robbery, he then escaped and spent many years "on the run" (and ended a job I really loved but I don't think that should be held against him) before ending up again as a prisoner. So what is the useful comparison between the compassionate release of a convicted robber and a convicted murder of hundreds of people?

Ronnie Biggs has a different set of special circumstances. He didn't kill 270 people, but he was convicted for participation in a brutal robbery which was itself a cause celebre for many years.

He escaped from prison in 1965 after serving only 15 months, initially fled to France, then Australia, and finally holed up in Brazil from where he could not be extradited. He lived free for 35 years, untouchable. He returned voluntarily when he was in his 70s, suffering from pneumonia. He has not had a diagnosis of terminal cancer, and he has been alive longer than Megrahi, post-release.

The three-months-to-live rule-of-thumb seems to have failed equally in this case. Again, prognoses of time-left-to-live are unreliable, in many cases. The law accepts that.

Hey, this guy had the best 30 years of his life living in luxury in Rio, when he should have been in jail. Why should we let him out just because he's in his 70s and a bit frail?

Also, as I understand it, Biggs was completely unrepentant. He didn't deny his guilt, he just didn't care. He was proud of the great heist.

So there you go. Two completely different cases, with completely different reasons why they should be treated with greater or lesser leniency. Under the present rules, none of these reasons matters. However, once you open the discussion to changing the rules, there's no reason to consider just one isolated aspect of each case.

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Old 26th February 2010, 08:41 AM   #133
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
The three-months-to-live rule-of-thumb seems to have failed equally in this case. Again, prognoses of time-left-to-live are unreliable, in many cases. The law accepts that.
But for the most part, the families don't accept that. Considering the fact that al-Megrahi requested compassionate release in July and now it's almost March means that he has outlived the three month prediction by almost five months.

So the question becomes, were Scottish doctors pressured into making the three month prediction in August? Do most Scottish prisoner who are released on compassionate release live much past three months? I know every case is different but if most lived as along as al-Megrahi has then there is a big flaw in the system.
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Old 26th February 2010, 10:47 AM   #134
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Originally Posted by Alt+F4 View Post
But for the most part, the families don't accept that. Considering the fact that al-Megrahi Biggs requested compassionate release in July April and now it's almost March means that he has outlived the three month prediction by almost five eleven months.

So the question becomes, were Scottish English doctors pressured into making the three month prediction in August July? Do most Scottish English prisoner who are released on compassionate release live much past three months? I know every case is different but if most lived as along as al-Megrahi Biggs has then there is a big flaw in the system.

The big flaw, as you put it, is that guesstimating the time someone has left to live is an inexact science. It can go the other way too, sometimes. Either of these men might have been dead by September. (To be clear, Biggs requested compassionate release in April, it was recommended that he be released at the beginning of July, but he wasn't actually released until early August.)

There is also the consideration, with Megrahi, that the Scottish doctors believed chemotherapy had gone as far as they could take it. However, when Megrahi returned to Libya, Italian specialists seem to have been consulted and a further round of a new chemotherapeutic agent was prescribed. It's perfectly possible this contributed to the longer-than-predicted survival time. That, and the natural effect of being in his home with his wife and extended family, rather than in jail 5000 miles from home.

With Biggs, who knows? I don't believe he has a diagnosis of cancer, so it's a lot harder to guess timings even than with Megrahi. I believe he's in a nursing home somewhere.

I just find it strange that so many people are getting so worked up about Megrahi, and challenging the system on his account, while we've got Biggs who seems to be an even bigger anomaly sitting there as well.

Indeed, many people died at Lockerbie, but to set against that we know that case was officially recognised as a possible miscarriage of justice. And then we have Biggs, who gleefully cheated justice for 35 years, and even now is "wholly unrepentant" about the crime he doesn't even pretend not to have committed.

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Old 26th February 2010, 02:28 PM   #135
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Originally Posted by chillzero View Post
I notice there are no quotes from those families so we are encouraged by the author to be outraged on their behalfs - something I detest about modern reporting. The aim is supposed to be responsible reporting but too often is actually nothing less than mob-mongering.

Actually, that's very true. We seldom hear anything from the outraged family members. I hesitate to say nothing at all, lest someone find something, but I haven't seen any comment. The person we do hear from is Frank Duggan, "President of Victims of Pan Am 103, Inc". He doesn't always make it terribly clear that he didn't lose a relative, or even a friend, at Lockerbie. It's all a bit hazy, but he seems to have been assigned to the US families by the CIA as some sort of minder, and sort of morphed into a front-man position.

He's the one who is to be heard on TV, loudly asserting that "the evidence is unassailable" and so on. He comes over very dogmatic and a bit aggressive, but I've never heard him discuss any actual point of evidence at any time. The SCCRC report doesn't seem even to be on his radar. Of course, the Pan Am 103 families are now mostly very rich, thanks to all the damages and compensation that were paid, so I suppose they can afford to employ a spokesman to defend their interests.

I don't know whether they're at all concerned that if the Camp Zeist case were to be overturned and it transpired the bomb got on board by a different route, all that money might be seen as being a bit tainted. Even if it finally turned out that the atrocity was perpetrated by Iran/Syria after all, I'd put the probability of them being required to return Gadaffi's money at approximately zero. It might be a consideration though.

In contrast, the British families appear on their own behalf. The usual spokesmen are Jim Swire (and his wife Jane), Martin Cadman and Pamela Dix. The most recent article seems to be this one, from four days ago.

Swire says Megrahi survival issue distracts from key question: "Was he guilty?"

Quote:
Dr Jim Swire, spokesman of UK Families Flight 103 says the present debate over the health prognosis of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi distracts from analysis of the "elephant in the room", the guilt or otherwise of Megrahi in the Pan Am 103 incident.

Swire points out that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission stated a miscarriage of justice may have been committed against Megrahi, and it is "desperately important that the conduct and outcome of his trial be re-examined".

"How can we have confidence in our legal system which has itself - through the SCCRC - expressed doubt over the case?" he asks.

"There is 'an elephant in the room' which we ignore, as Holyrood largely did, at our peril. On its flank is written 'WAS HE GUILTY?' We ignore it at the peril of having copious doodoo dumped upon all of us. That would be hard to scrape off."
For the avoidance of doubt, Jim and Jane Swire's daughter Flora was a passenger on Maid of the Seas, travelling to spend Christmas with her American boyfriend.

I don't see how it's possible to achieve closure for something like that if you don't believe the bombers have been brought to justice. It's all very well to stick your fingers in your ears and hum real loud that Megrahi was found guilty by a court, but the same has been true of a lot of cases, even terrorist ones, that later turned out to be completely wrong.

The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven cases are very comparable. In these cases, evidence was manipulated, facts were tortured to support a theory they quite patently didn't support, and the forensics department at RARDE (including one Thomas Hayes) lied in their teeth to support the police case. Initial appeals were unsuccessful, but public pressure that some here might label conspiracy-mongering kept the case in the public eye, and the verdicts were finally quashed about 15 years after the convictions.

Partick Conlon died in jail four years after being convicted, eleven years before his innocence was finally proved. Are we proud of that? Would we be happy if Megrahi's story ended the same way?

Rolfe.
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Old 26th February 2010, 03:47 PM   #136
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
We seldom hear anything from the outraged family members. I hesitate to say nothing at all, lest someone find something, but I haven't seen any comment.
"I feel sick. I feel depressed and outraged. I mean, I am just heartbroken," said Susan Cohen, whose daughter Theodora, a 20-year-old Syracuse University music student, was killed in the bombing.

"I thought that our governments, both the U.S. and the U.K., owed it to the victims and their families to ensure that Megrahi would fulfill his sentence," said Victoria Cummock, whose husband, John, died in the attack.

"It's absolutely horrendous", said the mother of John Patrick Flynn, who died in the bombing.

Q - "Is it possible for you to feel any compassion toward this man?"
A - (by Bert Ammerman, brother of Pan Am Flight 103 victim Thomas Ammerman), "No. He got his compassionate release when he got life in prison rather than the death penalty."

Wendy Giebler Sefcik, whose husband of nine months, William D. "Jay" Giebler Jr., was killed, said she was "devastated."

"I think it's disgusting; I think it's despicable," said Kara Weipz of Mount Laurel, whose 20-year-old brother, Rick Monetti, was killed in the bombing. For 20 years, the Scottish government has shown such compassion for the families, and why they're showing compassion to this — I hesitate to use the words 'human being' — is beyond me. He should spend the rest of his life in jail."

"I think it's deplorable," said Eileen Walsh of Glen Rock, whose father, brother and sister were killed when the plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988. "My mother died of cancer, and she didn't have half her family here because of that man. I've lost all respect for the Scottish government."

Peter Lowenstein of Morristown, whose 21-year-old son, Alexander, perished, shared Walsh's outrage.

Glenn Johnson, whose daughter Beth Ann was studying in London and returning home for Christmas when she died, said in a phone interview from Pennsylvania that he was “just devastated. How can a person who killed 270 people, who had no compassion for them, be given compassion? It is another tragedy families have to suffer.”

"This is not fair to the families," said Stan Maslowski, whose 30-year-old daughter Diane was returning from London for Christmas when Flight 103 went down on Dec. 21, 1988. "This shows a terrorist can get away with murder."


Links:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe...ion/index.html

http://www.freedomslighthouse.com/20...light-103.html

http://www.northjersey.com/news/inte...s_release.html

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/200...am-103-bomber/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32494106/
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Old 26th February 2010, 03:54 PM   #137
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
That, and the natural effect of being in his home with his wife and extended family, rather than in jail 5000 miles from home.
Yup, it's common sense that he would probably live longer by being home yet the doctors didn't take this into consideration when coming up with the "three months to live" determination. I wonder why?
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Old 26th February 2010, 04:12 PM   #138
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Of course, the Pan Am 103 families are now mostly very rich, thanks to all the damages and compensation that were paid, so I suppose they can afford to employ a spokesman to defend their interests.
As far as I can figure, the family of each victim was paid $6 million (US) by the Libyan government. Compared to what they lost, I don't think they are very rich at all.
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Old 26th February 2010, 04:36 PM   #139
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Originally Posted by Alt+F4 View Post
"I feel sick. I feel depressed and outraged. I mean, I am just heartbroken," said Susan Cohen, whose daughter Theodora, a 20-year-old Syracuse University music student, was killed in the bombing.

[....]

OK, thanks. I hadnn't gone through the US papers. It's always Duggan who comes on TV and writes here, just asserting "the evidence was unassailable" and stonewalling.

Originally Posted by Alt+F4 View Post
Yup, it's common sense that he would probably live longer by being home yet the doctors didn't take this into consideration when coming up with the "three months to live" determination. I wonder why?

Maybe because the question at issue was how long would he live if he remained in prison?

Do you have any comment on the rest of my post? Would you prefer Megrahi died in prison like Patrick Conlon, even though we know he may well be innocent, just as Patrick Conlon was?

I understand very well why Kenny MacAskill was motivated not to make any reference to the SCCRC report in his speech. Lawyers are like that. Never mind the actual facts (the SCCRC report doesn't magically unwrite itself just because you pressurised the defendant into withdrawing his appeal), just spout the legalese if it suits the position you want to adopt.

I don't, however, understand why people who are aware of the contents of that report are still eager to demand harsher punishment for Megrahi that the law dictates.

Rolfe.
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Old 26th February 2010, 04:41 PM   #140
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Originally Posted by Alt+F4 View Post
As far as I can figure, the family of each victim was paid $6 million (US) by the Libyan government. Compared to what they lost, I don't think they are very rich at all.

I haven't gone into it in great detail, so I can't say if that's a more accurate figure than some of the others I've read. Of course, that's in addition to the damages they won from Pan Am in their civil action against the airline in the early 1990s.

I don't think you can really compare the loss of a family member to an amount of money. No doubt most of these people would far rather have their son or daughter back than any amount of money. That doesn't change the fact that some people are now multi-millionnaires because of this. Six million dollars is still six million dollars, even if you're grieving and miserable.

I know some of the families refused to touch a penny, on the grounds that they didn't believe Libya had anything to do with it. I don't know who these people were though.

Rolfe.

ETA: I just noticed I missed a bunch of posts above, from Darat and Professor Yaffle - from 125 to 131. I would say I'm broadly in agreement with all that, especially with Professor Yaffle's point in post 129.
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Old 27th February 2010, 08:25 AM   #141
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Maybe because the question at issue was how long would he live if he remained in prison?
No where in MacAskill's explaination for the compassionate release does he discuss how long would al-Megrahi would live in prison vs. being released.

MacAskill was told that al-Megrahi was going to die very soon because:

"Assessment by a range of specialists has reached the firm consensus that his disease is, after several different trials of treatment, "hormone resistant" - that is resistant to any treatment options of known effectiveness."

It wasn't that Scottish prison doctors couldn't help him, it was MacAskill's belief there was no further treatmet for him, in the Scottish prison or anywhere. We now know this wasn't true.

Quote:
Would you prefer Megrahi died in prison like Patrick Conlon, even though we know he may well be innocent, just as Patrick Conlon was?
Compassionate release is not based on the suspected innocence of the person in question. The issue is was al-Megrahi a suitable candidate for a compassionate release under Scottish law? I don't think so. I think MacAskill was mislead by British and Libyan doctors.

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/This...kerbiedecision
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Old 27th February 2010, 11:04 AM   #142
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Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
No, I didn't say that. I simply refused to reply to the "But they released Nazi war criminals for health reasons, so why not this guy?" so-called "argument".

The reason, of course, is that just because they were wrong to release the Nazi war criminals doesn't make it OK to release this guy. One might as well argue that killing innocent people is fine because it often occurred in the past.

This is just another attempt to paint those who are outraged at the release of this mass murderer as morally deficient.
That was not the intent of my post. The intent was to counter arguments like dtugg's in this post:
Originally Posted by dtugg View Post
I am glad that my country is not "compassionate" enough to release say, KSM, if he someday develops cancer.
The release of the Nazi criminals shows the US could do that too. Somehow, these threads tend to turn into an (implicit) US vs. Europe flamefest. No flames yet in this thread, fortunately, but I do sense an undercurrent.

For the record, I'm against the release of the Nazi criminals - well, those convicted in Nuremberg were before my time, but I've witnessed part of the discussion on the "Breda Four" in the Netherlands (link).

As to Meghrabi, for me the temporal coincidence of his dropping his appeal and getting the release is just too much to consider the two things separately.
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Old 27th February 2010, 11:44 AM   #143
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By the way, I dropped a stitch. I think Tripoli is about 1500 miles from Glasgow, not 5,000!

Originally Posted by Alt+F4 View Post
Compassionate release is not based on the suspected innocence of the person in question. The issue is was al-Megrahi a suitable candidate for a compassionate release under Scottish law? I don't think so. I think MacAskill was mislead by British and Libyan doctors.

Of course the compassionate release wasn't based on suspected innocence! Everybody has been quite clear about that. It was based on professional advice regarding Megrahi's clinical condition. I merely point out that if you start agitating for him to receive harsher treatment than he's actually been given, you might bear in mind that he could well be innocent of that crime.

The fact remains that it's very difficult to predict how long someone has to live. Everybody knows that. Everybody has anecdotes of people who beat the "predictions", and of course of people who died much sooner than expected. The three months thing is only a guideline, anyway. This is the only case where anybody has stressed about it, after the fact. Even Biggs isn't generating these column inches, which is actually a bit surprising given his history.

Was anybody pushing the envelope? I don't know, and I submit none of us knows. Megrahi's dad is currently ascribing it all to positive thinking and woo-woo "alternative" treatments. How often have we heard that one!

Quote:
Mr Ali al-Megrahi believes that good genes, 'positive thinking' and alternative medicines could explain his son's remarkable survival.



It's the sort of thing you hear all the time from the homoeopaths. Of course the patients on the other end of the bell curve don't tend to make it into the miracle cures books.

There is, of course, the observation that several different interests all came together to support Megrahi's release. The Libyans wanted him home, obviously. They don't think he did it, but see him as the scapegoat offered up to secure Libya's re-entry into the international community, sanctions lifted and so on. The Westminster government was pretty keen to fall in with this, see the deal in the desert and the BP oil deal. The USA concurred with that, because US companies also have huge commercial interests in that region. (Never forget that part. Obama's public condemnation hid a private satisfaction with the outcome.)

The trouble was that after the election of 3rd May 2007, none of these interests could do a damn thing about it. The power to release Megrahi lay with the Scottish government, which was not at all minded to fall in with Tony Blair's prisoner transfer machinations, and had no interest in international trade negotiations. Megrahi himself wasn't minded to apply for prisoner transfer anyway, preferring to stay put in the hope of clearing his name on appeal. While he was in good health, stalemate.

The appeal was the problem. It both prevented any possibility of prisoner transfer, and was in itself potentially highly embarrassing. Megrahi's lawyers were agitating for sight of certain documents the government absolutely, definitely, no way, wanted to release. Even if that hurdle was cleared by the "special advocate" ploy, the appeal was likely to be successful, leaving everybody in the embarrassing position of having nobody convicted of Scotland's worst atrocity, and no suspects either. The best they could do was drag their feet and delay the appeal process as long as possible. Which I have to say they were doing quite well at, but that couldn't go on forever.

The cancer diagnosis changed all that, simply by changing Megrahi's priorities. His plan, just to sit it out until the appeal process ground to completion, wasn't going to work. He didn't have that long. He became persuadable.

This is where it gets slightly Machiavellian. The Scottish government didn't want to go the prisoner transfer route (which would have secured withdrawal of the appeal), because they would then have got huge political stick for doing Tony Blair's wishes. They were prepared to go for compassionate release, because that was an independent decision politically, but the snag was, it didn't require withdrawal of the appeal. However, it was vital to get the appeal withdrawn too.

Somehow, Kenny MacAskill, while all along intending to go the compassionate release route, managed to pressurise Megrahi to withdraw the appeal anyway. The minute Megrahi signed on the dotted line, the compassionate release was announced.

Given the general eagerness to get all this done, as all the interests came together to support the release, did they pull the trigger a few months too soon? I have no idea, and I submit neither has any other member of the public. The unpredictability of cancer survival times is still a fact, and Karol Sikora is still saying he's astonished Megrahi is still alive.

The thing is, this is a complicated political football that has been kicked around here for years. Personally, I don't feel the slightest outrage that Megrahi got to go home, and is so far beating the predictions. Since he probably didn't do it anyway, I can't see any reason to stress about it.

I can see why people who didn't have any idea what was going on, might react negatively to hearing, out of the blue, "Lockerbie bomber released". But frankly, it ain't that simple. If we're into outrage, mine's reserved for Kenny's underhand little ploy in forcing the withdrawal of that appeal, which might have got us a bit further in finding out what really happened in 1988. 'Cos we certainly don't know that at present.

Rolfe.
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Old 27th February 2010, 11:49 AM   #144
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
As to Meghrabi, for me the temporal coincidence of his dropping his appeal and getting the release is just too much to consider the two things separately.

Well, quite.

Robert Black, who is in a position to know, says all that needed to be done was not to let Megrahi know that compassionate release was the government's favoured solution, and keep him guessing that the key to getting home might be prisoner transfer. He was thus persuaded to drop the appeal so that he could apply for prisoner transfer as well as compassionate release.

Then, about 12 hours later, the compassionate release was announced.

I was following all this on the local Scottish news, day by day as it happened, and it was absolutely blatant. Kenny wanted rid of Megrahi all right, but he wasn't going to do prisoner transfer and look like Blair's poodle, but at the same time Megrahi was going nowhere until he withdrew that appeal.

If you want a scandal associated with this affair, that's where to look.

Rolfe.
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Old 28th February 2010, 05:19 PM   #145
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Well, Sunday papers being Sunday papers....

The Sunday Mail is pretty crummy, but it dealt with the 3-month prognosis today.

Quote:
Yesterday Prof Sikora insisted Megrahi was gravely ill and not expected to live much longer. He said: "Some people think we were paid billions of dollars by the Libyans to say he was going to die. The fact is there was no pressure at all on us to say he was going to die.
"On the balance of probabilities, there was a 50 per cent chance he would die in three months. If you saw the clinical detail.he had all the signs.
"I only saw him on one occasion but I went through everything and talked to the prison doctors who had seen him day in, day out
'I am very surprised that he is still alive.

You could certainly say, "He would say that, wouldn't he," but I've known of Karol Sikora as a leading specialist in his field for many many years, and I find it very unlikely he could be paid to lie about a patient.

The other interesting thing was a letter to the editor of Scotland on Sunday saying much what I said in my previous post.

Originally Posted by Roger Salvesen
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Board had discovered evidence which gave grounds for a second appeal. If Megrahi had been transferred to Libya under the Prisoner Transfer Agreement, the appeal would have lapsed. But he was released on compassionate grounds so the appeal could have continued in his absence. But Megrahi specifically asked the Appeal Court to abandon the appeal. Did Kenny MacAskill's visit to Greenock prison have anything to do with this?

I'd like an answer to that too, but I don't suppose I'm going to get one.

Rolfe.
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Old 28th February 2010, 05:35 PM   #146
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
You could certainly say, "He would say that, wouldn't he," but I've known of Karol Sikora as a leading specialist in his field for many many years, and I find it very unlikely he could be paid to lie about a patient.
Maybe he is just a lousy, incompetent doctor.
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Old 28th February 2010, 05:37 PM   #147
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Originally Posted by McHrozni View Post
I find it hard to believe that he would be able to do that. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer by the British doctors after all.

There are two possibilities ... one is that he's fighting the prostate cancer with reasonable success. This is unlikely, but if it was diagnosed early on, not impossible. The chance for a remission is unlikely, but living for months is not unheard of. That being said, he was expected to die within three months when he was released, so this case would have to be somewhat exceptional - again not impossible and not without precendens, but quite unlikely.

Another possibility is that his cancer was an excuse to release him and they inflated how bad it was. Perhaps it was discovered very early on and they claimed it was terminal to let him go. Why would UK do that is a mystery, however.

McHrozni
Or the other, more likely possiblity. Since Great Britain's health care is nationalized, ala Obama, Reid, Pelosi and gang, their doctors work for the government. The government has acknowledged wanting business contracts with Libya. They pressured the doctors to give a diagnosis that would support Big Brother.

Welcome to the world of Socialized Medicine.
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Old 28th February 2010, 05:45 PM   #148
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Originally Posted by FarmallMTA View Post
Or the other, more likely possiblity. Since Great Britain's health care is nationalized, ala Obama, Reid, Pelosi and gang, their doctors work for the government. The government has acknowledged wanting business contracts with Libya. They pressured the doctors to give a diagnosis that would support Big Brother.

Welcome to the world of Socialized Medicine.



Rolfe.
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Old 28th February 2010, 05:56 PM   #149
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Originally Posted by FarmallMTA View Post
Since Great Britain's health care is nationalized, ala Obama, Reid, Pelosi and gang, their doctors work for the government. The government has acknowledged wanting business contracts with Libya. They pressured the doctors to give a diagnosis that would support Big Brother.
What the heck does Obama, Reid, and/or Pelosi have to do with Scotland's health care system or al-Megrahi's compassionate release?

You do know that that British and Scotish governments are different, right?
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Old 28th February 2010, 07:20 PM   #150
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Well, quite.

Robert Black, who is in a position to know, says all that needed to be done was not to let Megrahi know that compassionate release was the government's favoured solution, and keep him guessing that the key to getting home might be prisoner transfer. He was thus persuaded to drop the appeal so that he could apply for prisoner transfer as well as compassionate release.

Then, about 12 hours later, the compassionate release was announced.

I was following all this on the local Scottish news, day by day as it happened, and it was absolutely blatant. Kenny wanted rid of Megrahi all right, but he wasn't going to do prisoner transfer and look like Blair's poodle, but at the same time Megrahi was going nowhere until he withdrew that appeal.

If you want a scandal associated with this affair, that's where to look.

Rolfe.


So...neither the US nor England is gonna tell Scottland what ta do!


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Old 1st March 2010, 02:25 AM   #151
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Pretty much. But especially England.

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