Scotland's leader says freeing Lockerbie bomber 'like Gandhi'

18th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

The controversial decision to free the Lockerbie bomber was in line with the principles of India's Mahatma Gandhi, Scotland's First Minister said Saturday, drawing criticism from opponents.

London - The controversial decision to free the Lockerbie bomber was in line with the principles of India's Mahatma Gandhi, Scotland's First Minister said Saturday, drawing criticism from opponents.

Alex Salmond praised his Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill for taking the decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds in August.

Megrahi has terminal cancer and is now back in Libya, his homeland.

The only person ever convicted of the crime, Megrahi was jailed for at least 27 years in 2001 over the bombing of a Pan Am flight above the Scottish town of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988 and served eight years of a life sentence.

The bombing killed 270 people, most of them Americans.

Salmond's comments came at a conference of his ruling Scottish National Party in Inverness, northern Scotland.

He said that Arun Gandhi, a grandson of the man seen as the father of the Indian nation for his doctrine of non-violent protest, recently visited Scotland and spoke to him.

"One of the things he told me is that his grandfather's philosophy is much misunderstood," said Salmond.

"His resistance was not passive but active, his dedication to non-violence a strength not a weakness.

"Sometimes someone has to break the cycle of retribution with an act of compassion."

Salmond added: "That is what Kenny MacAskill did and we should all be proud of him for doing it."

The comparison was ridiculed by the Labour Party. Labour holds power in London but is in opposition in Scotland, which is run by a devolved administration.

"Alex Salmond is losing his grip on reality," justice spokesman Richard Baker said.

"I am staggered that anyone would mention Kenny MacAskill in the same sentence as Mahatma Gandhi.

"The bragging that has gone on at the SNP conference about the release of the Lockerbie bomber is stomach turning and will further damage Scotland's reputation."

AFP/Expatica

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