Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wrong decision

I'm a fairly compassionate person (I like to think?) and - I hope even my political opponents would agree?? - not 'overly' partisan or personal in my political beliefs and/or actions ...

... but having kept quiet on the Megrahi decision since the whole episode burst into the news last week, after some serious thought I now find myself - whilst having personal sympathy for the position Kenny MacAskill found himself in - having absolutely no sympathy for the way the ultimate decision was arrived at and eventually communicated.

A man (Megrahi) who is legally guilty (put aside the arguments over his conviction - they shouldn't apply to this moment) of murdering 270 people was released from jail last Thursday, and allowed to leave the country of his crime, where he was being held for his actions on a life-sentence.

I just can't find any justification for what's described above?

Look at the statement on this issue from the Scottish Government (and the relevant legislation) - it is obvious that Scottish Ministers have the power to release on 'compassionate grounds', but the relevant Minister has only 'guidance' to follow and has to be 'satisfied' of any case made. There is no reading of the legislation (not in my mind) that says: if this and this applies, then the prisoner must be released ...

... ultimately it's a subjective process, which clearly relies on some objective facts - such as the prisoner is dying - but nowhere can I see any set of objective facts that must inextricably lead, in law, to prisoner release?

MacAskill was right to say, "these are my decisions and my decisions alone" ... that's correct ... but, for me, he arrived at the wrong decision and released (not just from custody, but from Scotland) a man who is legally guilty of the worst crime committed on Scottish soil, in living memory.

A compassionate decision - just maybe?

The right decision - certainly not.

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