When a convicted criminal is sentenced to jail for life, a sentence which is usually reserved for criminals who have committed a very serious offence, he or she should serve out the sentence.
I question the ethical validity of releasing life-term prisoners just because they are terminally ill.
Take Ronald Biggs, for example, who took part in a train robbery in which a guard was killed. He escaped from jail, lived many years in South America, thumbed his nose at British law and then returned to the U.K when he was ill and needed free medical treatment. Now that he is mortally ill, he has been released on compassionate grounds.
The question I ask is what has he done to deserve compassion?
Today we hear that the Lybian bomber convicted of blowing up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie may be released from prison because he has terminal prostate cancer. The question I ask once again is why should a terrorist who claimed the lives of 259 passengers plus 11 residents of Lockerbie be given any compassion at all?
He is not in pain and he will probably survive for many years according to the Scottish Lord Justice, Lord Hamilton. But even if he were in pain, so what?
While doubts have been raised about al-Megrahi’s guilt, this is a separate issue since he has been convicted. While his conviction stands, he should die in prison.
Many years ago, I spent a very solemn afternoon in the Lockerbie Memorial Garden. It was a small unassuming place but very poignant. I could not help but think of the thwarted lives of the innocent victims on Pan Am Flight 103 and those who died in the quiet village which will always be associated with one of the world’s most heinous crimes. The memory of this tragic event is as vivid in my mind as it was 21 years ago.
That’s when I felt true compassion.