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Tags Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi , Lockerbie bombing

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Old 22nd February 2010, 12:37 PM   #41
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Quote:
see, for discussion and expansion of this statement, comment below by FP Heur and my reply
You might like to read the whole article and comments, Ziggurat.

Quote:
The ‘nature of the offence’, which you rightly identify as mentioned in Annex 1 as a relevant factor, seems never in fact to have been permitted to trump the factors identified in paragraph 4.1 of the policy such as terminal illness, as distinct to paragraph 4.2 cases. Once a case was recognised as checking off the 4.1 boxes, the prisoner got compassionate release. That was how it worked.
Quote:
Had the Justice Secretary turned round last month and said “I know it’s never been the policy to allow the seriousness of the crime to trump terminal illness, but in reaction to this case I am changing that”, ex hypothesi retrospectively, he’d have been challenged by judicial review, and I repeat that I think the prospects of that challenge succeeding would in my opinion have been excellent.
This is not a full description, but a summary, of the law.

Last edited by Professor Yaffle; 22nd February 2010 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 12:38 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
Were you this incensed about the release of a war criminal/convicted murder of 22 people by the US?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Calley
No.

Being a toddler at the time had something to do with it.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 12:39 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
As far as I have been able to find out, the nature of the crime is not one of the things that is taken into consideration, .
Which is precisely the problem.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 12:40 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
As far as I have been able to find out, the nature of the crime is not one of the things that is taken into consideration, although the risk of reoffending is.
If that's the case, then I see it as a major problem. If the nature of the crime isn't taken into consideration, I don't think justice is being done. This particular case may indeed be normal in that regards, but normal isn't what I would consider acceptable. And not just because of this case, I could imagine plenty of non-terrorist cases in which the nature of the crime should preclude compassionate release.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 12:45 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
I can't tell from that what "excellent prospects of success" for an appeal means. Is it simply the author's opinion of which way higher courts would exercise their own judgment, or is there some legal grounds on which a refusal to release cannot be justified? For the former, well, that's not really a reason to release him (if he gets released on appeal, so be it), and if it's the latter, then the laws regarding release sound bad and should probably be changed on general principle.

To put it slightly differently, are there no criminals for whom the government can ever say, "this criminal we aren't willing to release even if he's terminally ill"? Because if there aren't, I see that as a problem. And if there are, I don't see why they couldn't have decided that this terrorist was one such criminal.
From reading the opinion of that QC, I believe they would be on shaky ground if they ever decided the nature of the crime would suddenly trump other factors.

Are you now satisfied that the decision was correct on legal grounds, even though you happen to disagree with the law?

ETA - in case you don't know what a QC is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen%27s_Counsel

Last edited by Professor Yaffle; 22nd February 2010 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 12:55 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
Are you now satisfied that the decision was correct on legal grounds, even though you happen to disagree with the law?
Yes. One of the strange aspects of this is the role that precedent has in UK law compared to the US. The fact that nobody has been denied release due to the nature of the offense now seems to mean that nobody can be, even though it sounds like the letter of the law allows for it. I don't think you could make such an argument here. That alone is a secondary issue, the advantages and disadvantages of which I don't think I'm qualified to discuss in any real depth, but at least in regard to this law it does seem to have produced a bad result in terms of the meaning of the law. And not just for this case, I think it's bad that effectively nobody can be denied release based on the nature of their crime.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 04:34 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Fair enough - I was a bit out memorywise.
I know the paper is probably being sensationalist, but it is food for thought I guess when it says....

The Sunday Telegraph revealed last September that the Libyan government had paid for the medical evidence which helped Megrahi, 57, to be released. The Libyans had encouraged doctors to say he had only three months to live.

Last edited by Hallo Alfie; 22nd February 2010 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 04:39 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Yes. One of the strange aspects of this is the role that precedent has in UK law compared to the US. The fact that nobody has been denied release due to the nature of the offense now seems to mean that nobody can be, even though it sounds like the letter of the law allows for it. I don't think you could make such an argument here. That alone is a secondary issue, the advantages and disadvantages of which I don't think I'm qualified to discuss in any real depth, but at least in regard to this law it does seem to have produced a bad result in terms of the meaning of the law. And not just for this case, I think it's bad that effectively nobody can be denied release based on the nature of their crime.
Then we'll just have to agree to disagree on that point.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 05:12 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by Beerina View Post
"The compassionate way of letting a mass-murderer go so he can spend the last few months of life in his home country with his family."
Yeah, well, the US never does that? Let's see.

Walther Funk: convicted to life, released in 1957 for ill health, died in 1960.

Gustav Krupp: not even tried because of ill health.

Konstantin von Neurath: convicted to 15 years, released 1954 for heart attack, died in 1956.

Erich Raeder: convicted to life, released 1955 for ill health, died in 1960.

Compared to these guys, Meghrabi is a rank amateur when it comes to mass murdering people.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 08:21 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by Beerina View Post
Science: Observation, theory, prediction, tests.

Theory: Guy isn't really dying, at least as badly as portrayed by those in charge, including putting up a major fake sickiness.

Prediction: When released, will live a lot longer because he really wasn't as sick as people in charge were fooled into believing.

Prediction 2: Apologists will, when faced with Prediction 1 coming true, claim it's just a random fluke to the progress of his disease.

Yes, scientists use predictions to test their theories. Pseudo-scientists and paranormalists, in contrast, use postdictions to justify theirs.

Are these predictions you are citing in your post, or are they postdictions? In other words, are these things you said at the time of al-Megrahi's release, or are these things you are saying now, after he has been out for 6 months?

Seems to me there were several threads discussing al-Megrahi's release back in August. And it looks as if you even participated in a couple of them:

Convicted Lockerbie bomber released
Should convicted Libyan terrorist have been released?

I don't have the time or energy to wade through these threads in their entirety to see if you or others actually were making such predictions back then. If you did, please quote from (and provide links to) the posts in which these predictions were made.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 08:28 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Really? Are there many other cases of mass-murdering terrorists in UK prisons who get compassionate release because they develop terminal cancer?
Murderers, yes. There is no other "qualifiers" required for the law.

Check out the Kray release in England.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 10:03 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
There's certainly a case of a very notorious criminal being released on compassionate grounds.
Assuming you mean Ronnie Biggs - come to think of it, he wasn't supposed to make it to Christmas, but is apparently still on the go. Human survival rates for a given issue are all based on averages, it's hardly an exact science.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 04:22 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by richardm View Post
Assuming you mean Ronnie Biggs - come to think of it, he wasn't supposed to make it to Christmas, but is apparently still on the go. Human survival rates for a given issue are all based on averages, it's hardly an exact science.
We don't hear too much about Ronnie here these days despite his Melbourne links. I thought I remembered reading something - even seeing photos - about the poor old codger having his umpteenth stroke (or similar). Does he even know what day it is today?
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Old 23rd February 2010, 04:51 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by A.A.Alfie View Post
We don't hear too much about Ronnie here these days despite his Melbourne links. I thought I remembered reading something - even seeing photos - about the poor old codger having his umpteenth stroke (or similar). Does he even know what day it is today?
It doesn't matter, he MUST BE PUNISHED!!!!

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Old 23rd February 2010, 05:44 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by A.A.Alfie View Post
We don't hear too much about Ronnie here these days despite his Melbourne links. I thought I remembered reading something - even seeing photos - about the poor old codger having his umpteenth stroke (or similar). Does he even know what day it is today?

Yes, Ronnie Biggs was the obvious current comparison. I'm not quite sure what his diagnosis was supposed to be, that he fulfilled the criteria for compassionate release. He was released before Megrahi, he's still on the go, and I don't hear ghoulish demands to know why he's still breathing.

Actually, Biggs was deliberately gaming the system. He skipped, and lived the high life in the sun for many years. Only when he became old and sick did he voluntarily surrender himself for imprisonment, knowing even then that he'd be granted compassionate release in due course. I wonder if he'd have come quite so soon if he'd realised he'd actually be banged up for eight years?

Kenny MacAskill made a point of insisting that any possibility Megrahi was actually innocent was not a factor in his decision, so that one isn't really on the table. I merely repeat that having examined the evidence in the case, I wouldn't give anyone a parking ticket on the strength of that lot. And I suggest that anyone insisting he definitely was a mass murderer should have a similar look at the evidence, and at the shameful events surrounding both the delaying and the abandonment of the appeal proceedings.

I'm also sick fed up explaining to people the difference between the Scottish and UK governments in this affair, which one was angling for Libyan oil contracts and dangling the prospect of prisoner transfer in front of Gadaffi, compared to which one actually had the authority to decide what should be done with Megrahi. And of course that the two governments hate each other like poison, leading to the fact that most of the political posturing going on here is for simple party purposes. Nobody in the Labour party gives a rat's arse what happens to Megrahi so long as they can use the events to criticise the SNP. Go look it up.

The simple fact is that the seriousness of the offence is not a factor in any decision on the granting of compassionate release. That's our law, and we like it that way. We aren't going to overturn it just to satisfy the vengeful instincts of a bunch of Yanks who have little grasp of most of the issues. Also, exact prognosis of time left to live can be a tricky business, see Ronnie Biggs as just the first of many other examples, even before you consider whether a terminally ill patient may survive longer at home with his family, compared to the prognosis if he remained in prison in a foreign country.

Originally Posted by chillzero View Post
The only reason this thread was started was to complain that a man diagnosed with prostate cancer has not yet died.

I simply don't take pleasure in the pain of others.

This, basically.

Rolfe.
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Last edited by Rolfe; 23rd February 2010 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 24th February 2010, 12:51 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by richardm View Post
Assuming you mean Ronnie Biggs - come to think of it, he wasn't supposed to make it to Christmas, but is apparently still on the go. Human survival rates for a given issue are all based on averages, it's hardly an exact science.
I really would like to know what medical advice he was released on, he seemed to be suffering from nothing bar old age.
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Old 24th February 2010, 01:47 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I'm also sick fed up explaining to people the difference between the Scottish and UK governments in this affair, which one was angling for Libyan oil contracts and dangling the prospect of prisoner transfer in front of Gadaffi, compared to which one actually had the authority to decide what should be done with Megrahi. And of course that the two governments hate each other like poison, leading to the fact that most of the political posturing going on here is for simple party purposes. Nobody in the Labour party gives a rat's arse what happens to Megrahi so long as they can use the events to criticise the SNP. Go look it up.

The simple fact is that the seriousness of the offence is not a factor in any decision on the granting of compassionate release. That's our law, and we like it that way. We aren't going to overturn it just to satisfy the vengeful instincts of a bunch of Yanks who have little grasp of most of the issues.
Quoted for quality
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Old 24th February 2010, 01:51 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
It doesn't matter, he MUST BE PUNISHED!!!!
There is an enormous difference between a bank robber who never killed anybody (nor intended to) and someone who killed 270 people. The first I can see can qualify for compassionate release eventually; the latter, no.

I'd say that once you kill 270 innocents people deliberately, you lose all right to compassion.

But that's what you get when the law does not even allow you to consider the enormity of the crime in the "compassionate" release considerations.
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Old 24th February 2010, 02:00 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
That's our law, and we like it that way. We aren't going to overturn it just to satisfy the vengeful instincts of a bunch of Yanks who have little grasp of most of the issues.
This is more than a little bit ironic, given your interest in what the US does with health care.
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Old 24th February 2010, 02:11 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
There is an enormous difference between a bank robber who never killed anybody (nor intended to) and someone who killed 270 people. The first I can see can qualify for compassionate release eventually; the latter, no.

I'd say that once you kill 270 innocents people deliberately, you lose all right to compassion.

But that's what you get when the law does not even allow you to consider the enormity of the crime in the "compassionate" release considerations.
Yes, I agree.
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Old 24th February 2010, 03:25 AM   #61
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If you really want to get into the political motives behind Megrahi's release, you also have to consider the question of the appeal proceedings.

Megrahi applied for leave to appeal in 2003. Leave was not granted until 2007, a ridiculously long delay. There is an unusually detailed press release from the SCCRC giving four of the six grounds on which they determined there was a possibility of a miscarriage of justice. Further details of this matter are available, and there is pressure for the SCCRC to publish its findings in full. It's fairly clear from all this that the likelihood of the appeal being successful was rather high.

At the time (2007) it was anticipated that the appeal would come to court in 2008, however this didn't happen. Part of the reason was legal wrangling over a particular document or documents the defence wanted access to, which they believed would assist their client. Despite a court order ruling for disclosure, the government refused to do this, invoking a "public interest immunity" clause with stuff about the matter affecting Britain's relations with a foreign power.

I have NO IDEA what this is all about, except that there's something the government is extremely anxious should not leak out anywhere. The solution finally agreed on was something I've never heard of before. A "special advocate" was to be appointed who would be allowed contact with Megrahi and his defence team before being allowed to see the document(s), but then once he'd seen them, he would be allowed no further contact with defendant or defence lawyers, and he and he only would be allowed to put whatever points he thought relevant from these documents to the court. Presumably in camera, it never got that far. I never heard anything like it!

All this arguing was still going on when Megrahi was diagnosed with cancer in September 2008. The appeal finally got to court in about March 2009, however one of the judges fell ill about a month later, and the appeal was adjourned. By this time Megrahi himself was apparently quite ill, however instead of appointing a replacement judge to hurry things along, the court elected to adjourn until November 2009 to allow the sick judge to recover. The whole business with the compassionate release happened in August.

However, there's another wrinkle. Megrahi didn't have to withdraw his appeal in order to be granted compassionate release. Many people believe it's a great pity he withdrew it, because if the appeal had still been outstanding at the time of his death it would have been open to another interested party to continue with the appeal on his behalf. Thus we might have found out a bit more about this astoundingly murky affair in the end, regardless. But compassionate release wasn't the only possible vehicle for sending him back to Libya - the other was the prisoner transfer agreement negotiated by Tony Blair in the "deal in the desert" in May 2007. That was only possible if there was no outstanding appeal.

By the simple matter of dangling both possibilities in front of Megrahi, without making it clear to him that compassionate release was the way the government was likely to go, he was "persuaded" to formally abandon his appeal just before the compassionate release was announced. There is thus no easy way the affair can be further examined in court, no realistic possibility that the government will find itself in the embarrassing position of having nobody convicted of the Lockerbie atrocity, and no possibility that these contentious documents, whatever they are, will have to be made public.

Frankly, if it was possible for Kenny MacAskill to have given Megrahi prostate cancer, I'd suspect him of arranging it. "Convenient" doesn't begin to describe it. Before the diagnosis Megrahi himself - only about 57 - preferred to stay in Scotland and pursue his appeal. The prisoner transfer possibility wasn't attractive to him, because he wanted to clear his name. But when he realised he only had a short time to live, his priorities changed, and he became amenable to persuasion in order to maximise the possibility of getting home by one means or another.

I'm quite certain the deal in the desert was made with Megrahi in mind, and that the motive was oil - specifically a big oil deal signed by BP only days later. However, almost simultaneously with this, the Labour party lost the Scottish election to the SNP, and Blair found himself with a non-compliant SNP government in Holyrood instead of "how high?" Jack McConnell. The SNP were outraged at the disposition of Megrahi - a matter for the Scottish government alone - being horse-traded by Tony Blair for an oil deal. For this reason, it was never likely they would accede to a prisoner transfer, but the cancer development brought compassionate release onto the table as a more palatable solution.

The way Kenny MacAskill managed to go down the compassionate release route but at the same time secure the great prize - the withdrawal of the appeal - is a piece of political finesse worthy of Machiavelli. At one stroke, he both stymied the Westminster government's plans to force through a prisoner transfer (it was politically important the SNP not be seen to be doing what Westminster wanted), and got the appeal process halted.

Here endeth the second lesson.

Rolfe.
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Last edited by Rolfe; 24th February 2010 at 03:31 AM.
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Old 24th February 2010, 03:39 AM   #62
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An excellent summary Rolfe.
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Old 24th February 2010, 04:21 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
This is more than a little bit ironic, given your interest in what the US does with health care.
The obvious and very relevant difference, of course, is that Rolfe actually has quite the grasp of health care, what it does and how it works... quite unlike an awful lot of Americans, I might add.

Let me put it this way: if we banned anyone from commenting on anything about which they know less than Rolfe knows about healthcare, 99% of all posters here would be forcibly silenced 99% of the time.
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Old 24th February 2010, 06:18 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
This is more than a little bit ironic, given your interest in what the US does with health care.

There is a small difference, though you may regard it as hair-splitting.

I'm interested in the US healthcare issue as an uninvolved observer. My sole emotional involvement is that I feel sorry for the people who are disadvantaged by the present system, while feeling extraordinarily lucky to benefit from a universal healthcare system myself. I'd like to see the US system changed to something better simply for the benefit of many Americans, some of whom happen to be my friends.

You seem to want to influence the Scottish judicial process for personal reasons of revenge. You seem to want to do that while knowing almost nothing of the affair you're commenting on, which I rather think compounds the problem.

The political and judicial machinations surrounding Megrahi's trial, imprisonment and release are complex and wide-ranging. It gets tedious to have to start again at square one every time some Yank shows up declaring "this guy murdered 270 people therefore I want him to rot in jail", as if that was all they needed to know about it.

In one sense, as I said, the question of Megrahi's actual guilt or innocence is irrelevant to the compassionate release. Kenny MacAskill very specifically did not refer to the appeal or the grounds for believing this was a miscarriage of justice when he granted that release. And the severity of the crime is not a factor in Scots law when making that decision anyway.

First, we don't want this case to set a precedent in that respect, so that in future we can have a public witch-hunt every time a murderer is eligible for compassionate release. How big does the body count have to be before release is blocked? Is it OK if they only killed one person? Why are the relatives of a single victim given less consideration than the relatives of multiple victims? And so on. Do we want our prisons turned into hospices to satisfy anybody's lust for revenge? No.

Second, if you are going to use this particular case to call for a new precedent to be set, and allow the severity of the crime to influence the decision, you can't escape facing the question of the certainty or otherwise of this man's guilt. I started looking at the case because of certain allegations of evidence-rigging, and thinking that the case may not have been proved beyond reasonable doubt. Having looked at the evidence in a lot of detail, I've come to a slightly surprising conclusion. Even if there was no tampering with any of the evidence, the case doesn't stand up. In company with a number of other intrested individuals (such as Prof. Black) I've come to the conclusion not just that the "beyond reasonable doubt" criterion didn't come close to being met (and the SCCRC broadly agrees with this, on the evidence of its support for the appeal process), but that the evidence actually indicates Megrahi's innocence.

Yes, I know, the consipracy theory area is that way, and there is a lot of interesting discussion going on about Lockerbie over several threads in that section. You're welcome. You may disagree with me, but please inform yourself of the facts and disagree from an informed position, rather than baying for this man's blood simply because the Camp Zeist judges turned in a perverse verdict. Or do you believe that innocent people never get convicted? What colour is the sky on your planet?

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Old 24th February 2010, 03:38 PM   #65
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Oops - I didn't kill the thread, did I?

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Old 24th February 2010, 03:43 PM   #66
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Pretty close Rolf.


Anyway, if they'd simply executed him in the first place, this whole discussion would be academic (which I guess it is anyway).
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Old 24th February 2010, 03:51 PM   #67
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As the Judge Lord Denning once said:

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‘We shouldn’t have all these campaigns to get the Birmingham Six* released if they’d been hanged. They’d have been forgotten and the whole community would have been satisfied.’


*The Birmingham Six were innocent
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Old 24th February 2010, 03:52 PM   #68
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So is anyone worried that the guy is any danger to the public?
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Old 24th February 2010, 04:10 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
You seem to want to influence the Scottish judicial process for personal reasons of revenge.
Quite the mind reading ability you've got there, Rolfe, considering I never expressed any desire for revenge. You really must teach me that trick some time.

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You seem to want to do that while knowing almost nothing of the affair you're commenting on, which I rather think compounds the problem.
Wrong again, Rolfe. There is much detail to Scottish law that I do not know, and never claimed to know. But the facet which I am commenting on is that the nature of a crime is not taken into consideration when evaluating possible compassionate release. That's a fact that you yourself have stated, so it's not even disputed. I think that it is wrong to not consider the crime as a factor. That's got nothing to do with revenge, hell, I pointed out that it's not even peculiar to this case. You are free to disagree with me, but that opinion is based neither on ignorance nor on any desire for revenge.

Quote:
The political and judicial machinations surrounding Megrahi's trial, imprisonment and release are complex and wide-ranging. It gets tedious to have to start again at square one every time some Yank shows up declaring "this guy murdered 270 people therefore I want him to rot in jail", as if that was all they needed to know about it.
You must be talking about someone else here, though I'm not sure whom.

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Do we want our prisons turned into hospices to satisfy anybody's lust for revenge? No.
Yet again, the "revenge" strawman rears its head.

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Second, if you are going to use this particular case to call for a new precedent to be set, and allow the severity of the crime to influence the decision, you can't escape facing the question of the certainty or otherwise of this man's guilt.
So? I never suggested one couldn't or shouldn't consider certainty of guilt. Its your fellow countrymen, not me, who declined to do so.
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Old 24th February 2010, 04:41 PM   #70
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It was unnecessary to consider whether or not guilt was certain, given that the undoubted severity of the offence wasn't going to influence whether or not compassionate release was granted.

As soon as you demand that compassionate release be denied on the basis of the severity of the offence, you inevitably invoke the question of whether or not the man actually committed the offence. Now if this was Ronnie Biggs, that argument wouldn't apply, because there is no doubt at all that he was one of the Great Train Robbers. If it was Harold Shipman, the same would apply. There is no doubt at all of his guilt. Peter Sutcliffe - and that one will come up some day - ditto. Ian Brady? Ian Huntley? I could go on.

If we knew as a reasonable certainty that we had the actual Lockerbie Bomber, we could have the discussion you're trying to have. But that's a complete hypothetical. You actually want to overturn precedent and set a new and potentially very damaging precedent, in respect of a case with extraordinarily well-documented evidence suggesting serious doubt as to the guilt of the convicted man.

So can we please have the discussion about the real world, and not about this hypothetical world you seem to be inhabiting where Megrahi's guilt is as clear-cut as Huntley's or Shipman's.

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Old 24th February 2010, 04:48 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
It was unnecessary to consider whether or not guilt was certain, given that the undoubted severity of the offence wasn't going to influence whether or not compassionate release was granted.

As soon as you demand that compassionate release be denied on the basis of the severity of the offence, you inevitably invoke the question of whether or not the man actually committed the offence. Now if this was Ronnie Biggs, that argument wouldn't apply, because there is no doubt at all that he was one of the Great Train Robbers. If it was Harold Shipman, the same would apply. There is no doubt at all of his guilt. Peter Sutcliffe - and that one will come up some day - ditto. Ian Brady? Ian Huntley? I could go on.

If we knew as a reasonable certainty that we had the actual Lockerbie Bomber, we could have the discussion you're trying to have. But that's a complete hypothetical. You actually want to overturn precedent and set a new and potentially very damaging precedent, in respect of a case with extraordinarily well-documented evidence suggesting serious doubt as to the guilt of the convicted man.

So can we please have the discussion about the real world, and not about this hypothetical world you seem to be inhabiting where Megrahi's guilt is as clear-cut as Huntley's or Shipman's.

Rolfe.
As you say, the CT forum is that way.
For the interested observer we are looking at actual facts. The fact is the man was tried and found guilty by the same laws you are defending and don't want changed. I have no opinion on his guilt or innocence sufficed to say he was sentenced for his crimes.
I have heard lunatics here say that Martin Bryant is innocent of his mass murders too. Hogwash!

Anyway, this really is't about his guilt or supposed innocence, it is about him being charged, tried and convicted of killing 270 truly innocent people. He has since been released on compassionate grounds and frankly, I can see why some people would be upset at that.
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Old 24th February 2010, 05:01 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
As soon as you demand that compassionate release be denied on the basis of the severity of the offence, you inevitably invoke the question of whether or not the man actually committed the offence.
Again, what's your point? I never suggested this wasn't something that could be considered. I noted that in my previous response, and you just ignored it.

Quote:
So can we please have the discussion about the real world, and not about this hypothetical world you seem to be inhabiting where Megrahi's guilt is as clear-cut as Huntley's or Shipman's.
Can we please have the discussion about what I actually said and not what you imagine I said or thought?
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Old 24th February 2010, 05:04 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by Professor Yaffle View Post
As the Judge Lord Denning once said:

Quote:
‘We shouldn’t have all these campaigns to get the Birmingham Six* released if they’d been hanged. They’d have been forgotten and the whole community would have been satisfied.’

*The Birmingham Six were innocent

That's what irritates me about the habit of moving every thread discussing the possibility of Camp Zeist as a miscarriage of justice to Conspiracy Theories. There are some really stonking CTs surrounding Lockerbie, and some of them are actually worth discussing. However, a miscarriage of justice, possibly with political overtones, is not necessarily a CT in and of itself.

The Birmingham Six were innocent. The Maguire Seven were innocent. The Guildford Four were innocent. (And just as an aside, one of the forensics officers lambasted in these appeals was also the main forensic examiner in the Lockerbie incident, and had to resign as a result of the May Enquiry into the Maguire Seven part-way through the Lockerbie investigation.) Barry George was innocent. A quick google got me this and this.

Just because the Lockerbie case was a high-profile terrorist trial doesn't mean it can't have gone wrong in just the same way. (Particularly with Hayes mixed up in it.) Indeed, the political pressures to bring in a conviction at all costs can seldom have been greater.

I'm very happy, indeed eager, to discuss the outcome of this case with anyone who is at all informed about it. I'm quite saddened that nobody who denounces Megrahi in threads such as this and calls for him to rot in jail as painfully as possible is willing to engage in such debate.

That's their prerogative. However, I also feel I have the right to point out, in response to their calls for especial harshness for the "Lockerbie Bomber", that I wouldn't give anyone a parking ticket on the strength of that evidence.

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Old 24th February 2010, 05:13 PM   #74
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Zig, this isn't all about you, even though you're the only poster opposing the compassionate release to have come back to the thread so far. My main post on the matter stood alone, quoting neither you nor anyone else.

However, having looked at your posts, you seem to be calling for Kenny MacAskill to have gone against precedent and forced Megrahi to die in prison (in a foreign country and culture, nearly 2,000 miles from home), because 270 people died at Lockerbie.

Do you hold that opinion regardless of whether Megrahi was actually reponsible for these deaths?

Rolfe.
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Old 24th February 2010, 05:24 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by A.A.Alfie View Post
As you say, the CT forum is that way.
For the interested observer we are looking at actual facts. The fact is the man was tried and found guilty by the same laws you are defending and don't want changed. I have no opinion on his guilt or innocence sufficed to say he was sentenced for his crimes.
I have heard lunatics here say that Martin Bryant is innocent of his mass murders too. Hogwash!

Anyway, this really is't about his guilt or supposed innocence, it is about him being charged, tried and convicted of killing 270 truly innocent people. He has since been released on compassionate grounds and frankly, I can see why some people would be upset at that.

The man was tried and found guilty by the very suspension of the laws that safeguard (however imperfectly) the rights of the accused.

I know nothing about the case of Martin Bryant. I would not presume to comment on whether claims of his innocence are "hogwash" or not without looking into the validity of the claims. Miscarriages of justice happen. I can't tell by any sort of ESP whether or not this might have occurred in any particular case without knowing anything about it? Can you? (Assuming your "hogwash" comment is justified, does it therefore follow from that that Megrahi is also guilty?)

I would, however, refrain from calling for Martin Bryant to receive particularly harsh treatment because of the severity of thre offence he was convicted of, without having at least checked out the foundation of any claims he was actually innocent.

Your mileage seems to vary. Do you believe that any discussion of a possible miscarriage of justice is a conspiracy theory? Would you like to tell that to the people invoved in the 4,000-post thread about the Meredith Kercher murder?

Do you believe Megrahi should be subjected to expecially harsh treatment, even if the conclusions of this expert witness report are correct?

Rolfe.

ETA: I checked Wikipedia, and found a professional-looking article about Bryant which showed no hint of any reasonable doubt regarding his guilt. On the talk pages I note attempts to get some distinctly tenuous doubts into the article, being rationally slapped down. Any Wiki check on Lockerbie, and there are several related pages, reveals the stuff about the grounds for appeal and the doubts about the conviction quite openly.

I try not to sneer about subjects I don't know anything about. In my experience, that's a good way to end up looking stupid. It's simply perverse to assert that everyone convicted by a court actually committed the crime they were convicted for.
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Old 24th February 2010, 05:25 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
However, having looked at your posts, you seem to be calling for Kenny MacAskill to have gone against precedent and forced Megrahi to die in prison (in a foreign country and culture, nearly 2,000 miles from home), because 270 people died at Lockerbie.
Nope. I never suggested anyone should go against precedent. When I first started posting I didn't know what the precedent was (you may note that my first post was a question). I am opposed to that precedent, but that doesn't mean that this judge is the one responsible for rectifying what I see as a problem with Scottish law. The optimal process of fixing it is something I do not claim to know.

Quote:
Do you hold that opinion regardless of whether Megrahi was actually reponsible for these deaths?
I hold the opinion that Scottish law has a problem in not considering the nature of the crime a prisoner has been convicted of when deciding whether to grant compassionate release. As I have repeatedly said, that is a problem for more than just this case. If Megrahi is not actually guilty, compassionate release is not the preferable solution either.
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Old 24th February 2010, 06:16 PM   #77
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Nope. I never suggested anyone should go against precedent. When I first started posting I didn't know what the precedent was (you may note that my first post was a question). I am opposed to that precedent, but that doesn't mean that this judge is the one responsible for rectifying what I see as a problem with Scottish law. The optimal process of fixing it is something I do not claim to know.
I hold the opinion that Scottish law has a problem in not considering the nature of the crime a prisoner has been convicted of when deciding whether to grant compassionate release. As I have repeatedly said, that is a problem for more than just this case.

It's not up to any judge, it's up to the Justice Secretary. There doesn't seem to be any serious public pressure in Scotland to alter this precedent. Nobody has ever been released on compassionate grounds who went on to re-offend, and as I said, the concept of the prison as hospice isn't one many people find very palatable.


Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
If Megrahi is not actually guilty, compassionate release is not the preferable solution either.

No. Continuing with the appeal was the preferable solution. Unfortunately that wasn't possible under the circumstances.

My main problem with all this is the blatant manipulation of Megrahi to coerce him into withdrawing that appeal, before releasing him under conditions which didn't require the appeal to have been withdrawn. I don't know how much of this was related to these super-sekrit documents they made such a fuss about, and how much was simple reluctance to risk ending up in the position where they had no convictions for a 20-year-old atrocity. Either way, it swept the whole mess under the carpet moderately effectively.

Given that the appeal process couldn't possibly have been completed within Megrahi's likely life expectency, what would you have preferred?

Rolfe.
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Old 24th February 2010, 06:44 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
There is an enormous difference between a bank robber who never killed anybody (nor intended to) and someone who killed 270 people. The first I can see can qualify for compassionate release eventually; the latter, no.

I'd say that once you kill 270 innocents people deliberately, you lose all right to compassion.

But that's what you get when the law does not even allow you to consider the enormity of the crime in the "compassionate" release considerations.
And where's the limit? Do you lose that right at 270 victims? 250? 200?

Anyway, above I listed some guys who were responsible for some 12 million victims, and I heard here no outcry over their compassionate releases.
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Old 24th February 2010, 06:56 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
And where's the limit? Do you lose that right at 270 victims? 250? 200?
If it were up to me, I would say one. You commit first degree murder, you die in prison, period. I think hundreds of first degree murders is an absolute no-brainer.

Quote:
Anyway, above I listed some guys who were responsible for some 12 million victims, and I heard here no outcry over their compassionate releases.
Personally, I find it hard to be outraged over something that happened before my parents were born. I do think the Nazi scum should have died in prison though.

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Old 24th February 2010, 07:09 PM   #80
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I can see there are probably limits on the "the severity of the crime is irrelevant" bit, because my reaction to the Nazi war criminals was the same as yours. (Throw away the key, not that it's so long ago I don't care.)

However, we don't have any Nazi war criminals in jail in Scotland, and even if you want to make the case that the Lockerbie Bomber should be regarded the same way, I can't see how you can separate that from the very real doubt that Megrahi was actually the Lockerbie Bomber in the first place.

I've tried to imagine how I would react if I knew he'd really committed that atrocity, but it's too abstract.

I'm a bit ambivalent all the way, really. I'm pretty sure he was a spy, and very probably engaged in a security mission on the day of the bombing. Everything points to that. Just - not that mission. So, if Megrahi was a Libyan spy, what might he really be guilty of?

I have no idea. I know of no evidence that he was involved in any known crime or atrocity. One commentator used the fact that Megrahi had a lot of money in a Swiss bank account as evidence that he is "a very bad man". I don't see the inevitable connection. Would I support the imprisonment of a British spy for a crime he didn't commit, on the grounds that he was a spy so he must have done something? Probably not. And I'm a Sean Connery fan anyway.

I would dearly love to know who made and planted the bomb on PA103. Probably more than one person. Show me that person, with credible evidence, and I'll tell you how I feel about his being granted compassionate release. Megrahi? Meh. I don't grudge him his repatriation. I just wish the appeal had gone ahead.

Rolfe.

ETA: Not that I think we were likely to have learned anything we didn't already know from the appeal. They admit Megrahi didn't buy those clothes from Gauci, which is so obvious it doesn't need saying. Case collapses, without any sensitive information having to be released, or embarrassing probes into places the authorities seem not to want to go. Sorry Mr. Megrahi, it was all a big mistake, pity you spent the last 8 years of your life in jail. However, not having a scapegoat to blame, not being able to say, we have a conviction so other enquiries are inappropriate, would be a better place to start. Re-opening the investigation might still reveal useful information.
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