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Court Decisions

September 2, 2009
Traer Star-Clipper

In the court of public opinion, the release of convicted criminals is becoming more and more controversial. One especially heated debate has been over the release of the "Lockerbie Bomber" Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megahi. The important question to ask about this issue, is under what circumstances, if any, should a convicted murderer be released from prison? "When society has determined the punishment, or sentence has been adequately fulfilled," says Phillip Moss, a law teacher from North Tama High. But what if that sentence has been cut short?

Take, for instance, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, more likely to be known as the Lockerbie bomber, was sentenced to life in prison for the bombing of a Pam Am airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988. Two hundred and seventy people were killed, 259 on board, eleven on the ground. Twenty-one years later, Megrahi is being released on compassionate grounds, by Scottish Justice Kenny MacSkill, after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Does the local area think that compassionate grounds should even be a cause for release? Even more broadly, should convicted murderers be released at all? Kevin Darrow, an English teacher of North Tama High, thinks they could prove beneficial. "If a convicted murderer can be useful in aiding in the capture of another murderer, they should be able to get time off their sentence."

Upon hearing that Megrahi may soon be able to return to Libya, Susan Cohen, an American woman who lost her twenty-year-old daughter on the flight, is outraged. "You send him back- he'll be a hero and Gaddafi will be able to forget the whole thing, I'm sick of your compassion, have compassion for those who died." But how does the Traer community stand on this issue of Megraghi? Tempers are high and varied Angie Brist, a chemistry teacher from North Tama, says, "If he has truly repented, and it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will not murder again, then he can be released." While on the complete opposite spectrum, Jessica Nickel, a senior at North Tama High School says, "He shouldn't be released at all! He killed those people, he deprived 270 people of their basic human rights, and he should have to pay for his crime, not be sent home to his friends and family."



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