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Scottish church official supports decision to release Libyan bomber

September 1, 2010

EDINBURGH, Scotland

The Scottish government was right to show compassion and to release the Libyan man convicted of the 1988 bombing of a U.S. plane over Scotland, an official of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland has said.

“The principle behind the release of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi a year ago was right,  compassion, and my views haven’t changed since I welcomed his release on 20 August last year,” the Rev. Ian Galloway, the convener of the denomination’s church and society council, told ENInews.

Al-Megrahi was in 2001 sentenced to a minimum of 27 years in prison for the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people in the air and on the ground, in the Scottish town of Lockerbie. He was released by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds on August 20, 2009, after medical reports suggested he was terminally ill with cancer.

“What has changed is that the man is still alive,” said Galloway. “It was originally thought that because of his prostate cancer he had only about three months to live. But it’s never possible to gauge a person’s life and it’s not our job to do that. The decision to release him was correct.”

Galloway was speaking as Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, faced pressure from U.S. senators for an independent probe into the decision to free the Lockerbie bomber.

“Until such an inquiry is launched, we will not stand by as an injustice remains very much alive in a villa in Tripoli. The American people - and, indeed, the people of 21 nations who suffered the loss of their beloved ones - require nothing less,” Democratic Party senators Robert Menendez, Frank Lautenberg, Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer wrote.

Support for the Scottish government’s decision to release al-Megrahi also came from the Rev. John F. Mosey, a minister with the (Pentecostal) Assemblies of God in Cumbria in northwest England. He and his wife, Lisa, lost their 19-year old daughter, Helga, in the bombing.

Mosey told ENInews that although Britain might not be described as a Christian country today, its laws are based on Christ’s teachings.

“I believe the Scottish government was right to release the Lockerbie bomber on grounds of compassion,” he said. “As for a full probe into what really happened on 21 December 1988 … I would welcome that very much indeed and so would a lot of other people all over the world.”

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