Scot Justice Secretary, Mahatma Gandhi of same ilk: Scotland's First Minister

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Inverness (Scotland), Oct.18 (ANI): Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has compared the region's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to the Father of the Indian nation Mahatma Gandhi for his landmark and controversial quasi-judicial decision to free the Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.

Addressing Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) conference in Inverness, Salmond said: " On one hand, we have the Father of India, the pacifist leader of its independence movement, whose birthday is celebrated the world over as the International Day of Non-Violence, and on the other, an MSP who made a quasi-judicial decision."

Salmond wants to see SNP representation at Westminster rise from 7 to 20 MPs; a group of that size, he believes, could hold the balance of power in the event of a hung parliament. He also wants to be First Minister of an independent Scotland.

Al-Megrahi, who was released by Scottish Government on the compassionate grounds after he was found to be suffering from prostrate cancer, has claimed that new evidence in the investigations of the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing, proves his innocence.

Megrahi, who is currently in a hospital in Tripoli, has claimed that the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) had found the new evidence, which proves that he was not involved in the bombing.

According to reports, Megrahi has also put the documents on his website. "I continue to protest my innocence - how could I fail to do so?" The Daily Express quoted Megrahi, as saying in his website.

"The commission said that the non-disclosure of these documents and other material may have caused a miscarriage of justice," he added.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Scottish Government said that Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill made his decision over Megrahi "based on the due process of Scot Law" and "supports the conviction". "The Scottish Government has already released as much relevant information as possible, and has met with the SCCRC to look at what documentation relating to the appeal could be released by them," the spokesman said.

Earlier, Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment in Scotland after being convicted of 270 counts of murder for his part in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

However, he was freed on compassionate grounds by the Scottish government in August following reports that he had terminal prostate cancer and had less than three months to live. (ANI)

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