Glasgow Herald: Megrahi release today to prevent 'martyrdom'
The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing will be released today on compassionate grounds but Libya has given an undertaking that there will be no "triumphalism".
The Herald understands that one compelling reason for allowing the Libyan to return to Tripoli is to avoid him dying as a "martyr" in prison and putting Scotland on the map for all the wrong reasons.
The public announcement will be made at 1pm by Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary, who has been considering an application for prisoner transfer and for Megrahi's release on compassionate grounds.
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, who is suffering from terminal prostate cancer and has less than three months to live, will fly home to his family in time for Ramadan - as The Herald stated last week.
Megrahi, who is serving 27 years in HMP Greenock for the bombing that killed 270 people in December 1988, is expected to fly to Tripoli in a private jet owned by the Libyan government.
The Foreign Office yesterday advised the State Department of the decision.
Despite concerns that Megrahi will be paraded through the streets to a hero's welcome, The Herald understands that Libyan delegates have told ministers that there would be no such triumphalism.
There is also a tacit agreement that the Libyan government will make no comment until after his return and that, even then, it will not use Megrahi as a big part of Colonel Gaddafi's September celebrations for 40 years in power.
Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, the Libyan minister and former ambassador who was key to the talks to resume diplomatic relations with the UK and has been involved in the discussions about Megrahi, was in London yesterday. Obeidi is expected to fly from Luton to collect Megrahi at lunchtime.
The Crown Office yesterday e-mailed all the relatives of the victims to let them know that a decision is imminent and that the Justice Department will inform them before they tell the media.
The e-mail from the Crown Office states: "The Scottish Government have advised us that Mr MacAskill has heard from some of you personally and that he intimated he will take your representations into account when making his decisions.
"You will be aware that an application for compassionate release has now also been received by the Scottish ministers, and this application will be considered in parallel with the application for prisoner transfer.
"We understand that Mr MacAskill stated that he would make all efforts to ensure the families heard his decisions directly from the Scottish Government and not via the media.
"As we have explained to you previously, the decisions on both matters are for the Scottish Government and not matters in which Crown Office are involved."
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