Search for truth over Lockerbie must go on despite closure of criminal case

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Calls for an expensive and probably futile public enquiry into the Lockerbie bombing are quite simply a waste of time.

It would be a better plan to allow time to be the investigator, collecting new facts as they emerge. Across the world there are armies of people who investigated this crime. They have good memories and if they have any worth as investigators will have preserved their notes and records. Staging a formal enquiry would serve only to drive the truth further underground, from where it might never re-emerge.

JIM BRADLEY

Thornfield Terrace

Selkirk

On 21 December, 1988 a cloud of tragedy hung over the quiet Scottish town of Lockerbie when 270 souls were brutally executed in the worst act of terrorism ever to be perpetrated on Scottish soil.

Over the intervening years clouds of deceit and incompetence have enveloped our national and international justice systems.

Now in the aftermath of Mr Megrahi's return home to Libya, clouds of hypocrisy have descended on the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood as opposition party leaders line up to tell us what they would have done after years of doing little or nothing to establish that truth.

Cynically, they seek to make political capital and convince us that somehow Kenny MacAskill's compassion in sending Mr Megrahi home to die was worse than their indifference and procrastination.

The sad fact is that the truth about Lockerbie will never be known and no meaningful enquiry will ever be mounted. This is a tragedy for the victims, their loved ones and the Scottish justice system that ultimately let them down.

Lockerbie will forever be Scotland's shame.

IAIN A J McKIE

South Beach Road

Ayr

I used to speak loudly, with a poor attempt at a Scottish accent to ensure my four children were proud of their Scottish ancestry. No more.

I grew to enjoy a fine glass of Scotch once or twice a week. No more.

I have always dreamed of purchasing a kilt of my Gunn clan, as a bond with my great-grandparents who emigrated in the late 1800s. No more.

JAY ESMAY

Saint Cloud

Minnesota, US

I would like to applaud the compassion and courage of the Scottish Government in releasing Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.

It is increasingly difficult to have any sensitive response to the anger of the United States, a country in which men such as Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, perpetrators of an illegal war, walk around free, and Henry Kissinger, whose illegal slaughters in Cambodia led directly to the arrival of Pol Pot, enjoys his old age.

The moral double-standards and bullying of the US could have the eventual effect of blunting the genuine compassion people have had for the US victims of Lockerbie. The Scottish Government was right to do what it did. Be proud.

FRED JOHNSTON

Circular Road

Galway, Republic of Ireland

I am of Scottish descent and a long-time and frequent visitor to Scotland. I am also appalled and ashamed of the decision of the Scottish government to release a terrorist convicted of murdering 270 people. This wrong-headed decision shows not only a lack of a moral compass, but also a spineless concession to manifest evil.

B MITCHELL SIMPSON

Champlin Street

Newport, Rhode Island, US

At the same time as US officials are fulminating against the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, they might care to remind the rest of us just how many of their naval personnel served time after the USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air flight 655 in 1986 with the loss of 290 innocent lives.

As to Megrahi's welcome in Libya, this was far more subdued than the yellow-ribbon homecoming accorded Lt William Calley, held responsible (then pardoned) for the massacre of more than 500 Vietnamese villagers at My Lai in 1968, none of whose relatives were offered anything like the compensation Col Gaddafi was induced to pay families of the Lockerbie horror.

JOHN MURRAY

Appel Crescent

Fadden (Canberra), Australia

In forming its decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, did the Scottish Government give sufficient thought to what might happen if the US dollar and patronage were to suddenly and possibly forever be withdrawn from Scotland?

The direct effects of a Scottish stay-away by our American customers may become instantly recognisable next holiday season when hotel and tourist bookings dive.

And how many bottles of Scottish whisky are drunk in the US each year? What of the exports? Will these suffer? And what of the effects on an entire Scottish industry which relies on such exports and sales, from farmers and distillers to warehouse staff and drivers?

MARK SHICKELL

Whitford Gardens

Mitcham, Surrey

Genuine compassion cannot be applied selectively. Accordingly, it does not follow that mercy for a dying criminal automatically implies a lack of respect for his victims and their families.

Inevitably, those who set notions of justice, retribution or expedience above compassion will succeed only in diminishing themselves. Equally self-compromised will be those whose triumphalism abuses compassion's generosity.

I cannot imagine that the world's terrorists will be greatly cheered by the hope that they might just possibly be granted a fleeting release from imprisonment if they should eventually find themselves at an advanced stage of a terminal disease.

DAVID STEVENSON

Anson Road

Loughborough, Leicestershire

Forgotten among the hysterical reactions to the repatriation of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi lies the plain fact that on withdrawal of his appeal, the criminal investigation and legal assessment of the case ended.

Having had the opportunity of meeting Mr MacAskill, I had the possibility of explaining how important to the search for the truth we considered the Megrahi appeal. Unfortunately, Mr Megrahi decided to withdraw his appeal, but Mr MacAskill also listened carefully to the plea that Megrahi be released under the provisions of "compassionate release" rather than those of the prisoner transfer agreement (PTA).

In the so called "deal in the desert" between Tony Blair and Col Gaddafi two outcomes seem to have been established – the PTA and the awarding to a British-based international oil company substantial opportunities for work within the Libyan oilfieds.

Maybe, as Peter Mandelson would have us believe, this was not a quid pro quo. Only common sense is qualified to judge. The odious Libyan reception suggests the importance the Libyan regime attached to the release of Megrahi.

For the first time in 20 years the authorities can no longer hold those who seek the truth in check out of deference to the criminal inquiry or ongoing court procedures.

Now is the time for the appropriate authorities to launch a fully empowered inquiry. We have been requesting that for over 20 years.

DR JIM SWIRE

Calf Lane, Chipping Campden Gloucestershire

Remind me: is the current source of Transatlantic diatribe at the Scottish Government the same one that in recent decades turned a blind eye to US fundraising by the IRA for terrorist activities in the UK, concerts by the likes of Neil Diamond for arms to support Israel's continuing expansion in the West Bank, and whose attitude to any loss of American life overseas goes well beyond "an eye for an eye"?

DAVID GARRIOCH

Boosmill

Lilliesleaf, Melrose