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MacAskill: Release followed 'due process'

Aug. 31, 2009 at 9:56 AM   |   Comments

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- The Scottish official who released the Pan Am Flight 103 bomber defended his decision Monday, saying he followed "due process."

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill told an emergency session of Scotland's Parliament the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds because the Libyan spy has terminal cancer was based on "my decisions and my decisions alone," CNN reported.

"I strictly followed due process," MacAskill said.

Al-Megrahi, 57, was serving a life sentence in a Scottish prison for bombing Pan Am Flight 103 over the Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people in the air and on the ground.

MacAskill told the legislative body Libyan officials assured him that al-Megrahi would be received in "a low-key" manner, not the hero's welcome seen on television and Web sites around the world.

"It is a matter of great regret that Mr. al-Megrahi was received in such an inappropriate matter," MacAskill said.

MacAskill also acknowledged the widespread condemnation on the terrorist's release but said those concerns were beyond his jurisdiction.

"There remain concerns to some on the wider issues of the Lockerbie tragedy," he said. "This is a global issue."

U.S. officials from President Barack Obama on down have condemned the release. A Web site has popped up calling for Americans to boycott travel to Scotland and Scottish products, CNN said.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: "We understand the upset. We understand the disagreement. But we have to do what is right in terms of our legal system, not on the basis of commercial or political interests. That is what we are duty-bound to do. We didn't do it to court popularity."

Topics: Alex Salmond
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