The Address | Benghazi – Libya
LONDON – Former Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, said on Sunday that he has ‘no regrets’ over ruling to let the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, go free.
Speaking to British newspaper The Sun, he insisted he stands by his controversial ruling despite being certain that Megrahi was involved in the bombing.
“There are no regrets. We followed the rules and did the right thing. I stand by the decision.”
Describing Megrahi’s role in the attack that left 270 people dead, the former SNP minister insisted: “He was no innocent. He was part of the clan.”
Megrahi had already spent years behind bars in Scotland when his case crossed MacAskill’s desk. The UK Labour Government at the time had signed a prisoner transfer deal with Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2008 which cleared the way for his release.
MacAskill claims the deal was influenced by the interests of oil firms.
“Alex Salmond [Former First Minister of Scotland] went ballistic about the Prisoner Transfer Agreement and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was sent up to sort it out. He agreed to take Megrahi out of the treaty.”MacAskill said
“Then I got a phone call in the back of the car from him as I was driving past Grangemouth, asking if I understood how important BP was to the economy.” He added.
MacAskill revealed how the Libyan authorities created a new base in Scotland while Megrahi was behind bars here.
“He was no ordinary person. The Libyans set up a consulate in Glasgow just for him and the consul general used to come and visit but always deferred to Megrahi.” MacAskill said before adding, “Megrahi was the senior man. He was a reasonably senior player and they wanted him home.”
Al-Megrahi died at home in Tripoli on 20 May 2012 at the age of 60, three years after his release on compassionate grounds following his diagnosis with prostate cancer.
“We would never have allowed him to die here. That was the American preference, to have him die in a cell, but I would have medevaced him out. He lived longer than we anticipated but had he stayed, he would have refused all medical treatment and without that he would have died.”
The Lockerbie bombing killed 259 people in 21 December 1988. Libyan airline security officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who maintained his innocence until his death, was charged and imprisoned for his alleged crime, he was later released on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He died in May 2012, as the only person to be convicted for the attack.