A decision by the Scottish government is expected soon in the case of Libyan terrorist Abdel Baset al-Megrahi–the man convicted in 2001 of taking part in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The plane–carrying mostly Americans–blew up in flight killing all 259 people aboard and 11 on the ground. The reasoning behind releasing al-Megrahi is that he is suffering from terminal cancer and should be allowed to return home to die in his homeland.

It’s a bit of a head-scratcher to me when these arguments are put forward…and shocks me further when it actually works–swaying officials to release prisoners.

First of all, it isn’t as though al-Megrahi is being denied treatment in prison. He has been treated by the prison doctor but his aggressive form of prostate cancer is no longer responding to treatment. His wish to spend his last few months with his wife and five children is understandable but when you kill 270 people, you just can’t die at home surrounded by your loved ones. That seems a pretty fair trade to me…

Secondly, where was the compassion for the poor souls who boarded that flight right before Christmas in 1988? Where was the compassion for their families? The official inquest into the Pan Am 103 bombing concluded that the majority of passengers survived the initial bomb explosion in the air. Some even survived the impact with the ground only to die moments later of their injuries and exposure. Those that did not die in the initial explosion had a terrifying fall from the sky and some were even able to prepare for their deaths. The official inquiry stated that rescue workers found many of the victims clutching crosses and crucifixes, two friends were holding hands, and in one horrific case, a woman was found still clutching her baby.

It is important to remember the victims of Pan Am flight 103–both the passengers and those on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland. None were able to die in peace surrounded by loved ones. That isn’t to say that al-Megrahi should experience the same terrifying death as his victims, but surely dying in a jail while being given drugs to lessen his pain is compassion enough. Far more compassion than was given to al-Megrahi’s victims.