Page last updated at 00:38 GMT, Saturday, 20 February 2010

Fresh calls over Lockerbie advice

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi wearing medical mask at a hospital in Tripoli
Megrahi was released from prison in August on compassionate grounds

Opposition parties have stepped up calls for the medical evidence behind the release of the Lockerbie bomber to be published in full.

The calls come six months after Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill freed terminally ill Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.

Labour and the Tories have again hit out at the decision to return Megrahi to Libya, calling it a grave error.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said Mr MacAskill followed "due process".

Megrahi is the only man convicted of the Lockerbie atrocity, which saw 270 people die in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 on 21 December, 1988.

In August last year, medical advice indicated Megrahi, who has prostate cancer, only had three months left to live.

Botched process

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: "The decision to release Megrahi was a grave error of judgment and six months on it is also clear that it was a completely botched process.

"Kenny MacAskill should have properly weighed the seriousness of Megrahi's crime and long sentence against his compassion for the victims of the Lockerbie bombing.

"The justice secretary should not have gone to Greenock Prison for a personal meeting with Scotland's worst mass murderer and he certainly should have obtained a second opinion on the medical evidence."

A recent inquiry by Holyrood's Justice Committee criticised Mr MacAskill's decision to visit the bomber in prison.

"It was the right decision for the right reasons, Mr MacAskill followed due process every step of the way and he has repeatedly expressed his deepest sympathy for the relatives of all victims of the Lockerbie atrocity
Scottish Government spokeswoman

Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken, who chairs the committee, said: "Six months on and Scotland is still sickened by the sight of his hero's return to Tripoli.

"Alex Salmond's SNP government is still refusing to publish the independent medical advice upon which they based their decision to free Britain's biggest mass murderer."

A government spokeswoman said the medical report from the director of health at the Scottish Prison Service, on which Mr MacAskill based his decision, had been published on the Scottish Government website.

The report does not detail the advice from various consultants and specialists who looked into Megrahi's case.

The spokeswoman added: "The justice secretary said at the time of the release that he may die sooner or he may die later.

"It was the right decision for the right reasons, Mr MacAskill followed due process every step of the way and he has repeatedly expressed his deepest sympathy for the relatives of all victims of the Lockerbie atrocity."



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