My friend Irene comments on the place of compassion in the decision to release Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. The reason for my question to myself on Monday was that I made a statement on the day of the release suggesting that the Scottish Government had made a compassion-shaped choice. This is what I said:
“The decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is a brave political choice taken in the face of strong pressure from outside Scotland. We respect and honour the courage which the Scottish Government has shown.
“On one side of the balance is the suffering caused by this appalling act of terrorism and the need to sustain public confidence in our system of
justice. On the other side is the need to consider whether, in circumstances such as these, justice should be tempered with mercy and compassion.
“This decision sends to the world an important and positive message about our values.”
The Church of Scotland issued a rather more forthright statement in the same terms.
I think that politicians who make values-driven choices in the face of international opposition deserve our support. I remain content with what I said. I just feel somewhat disappointed as I watch the apparent clarity of that choice seeming to ebb away.