The latest issue of Private Eye (number 1243) leads its “In The Back” section (page 28) with an article titled “Libyan Takeaway”. It points out that the Eye predicted earlier this year that the only man convicted in connection with the bombing of PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, would abandon his appeal and then be freed to return to Libya to die with his family.
Although the Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, was not to make his decision on the al-Megrahi case until 1300 hours BST today, the Libyan Government appears to have endorsed the Eye’s prediction: they have reportedly sent an aircraft to Glasgow to enable their man to be flown back to Tripoli. They have good reason to hurry: al-Megrahi’s prostate cancer is now well advanced, and his family would like him to at least be there for the start of Ramadan, which this year starts tomorrow.
The decision to release al-Megrahi, against the wishes of the Obama administration, was confirmed only a few minutes ago. With the closing of this particular chapter, the whole business of whether the trial was fair, and the lingering thought that Libya was fingered for the bombing out of political expediency (the original suspect was Abu Jibril’s gang, an ultra radical Palestinian group) can be put to bed.
It’s all very convenient – perhaps a little too convenient.