The British papers are all dealing with the on-going controversy surrounding the release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
The Guardian leads with the story. The official line by London and Edinburgh authorities is that Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds – he is suffering from terminal prostate cancer. Dowing Street has claimed that the Scottish Government alone dealt with the issue. Now it has emerged that Britain told Tripoli that Gordon Brown and David Milliband did not want Megrahi “to die in prison”. Tripoli had warned Britain that should Megrahi die in prison, they would view it as a death sentence.
The news has caused a furore in Britain. The Lockerbie bombing killed 270 people in 1988. A Pan Am flight from London to New York was bombed out of the sky over the Scottish town of Lockerbie killing everyone on board and 11 people on the ground as debris fell from the plane.
The Independent also leads with this story and inside, it covers the lavish celebrations in Tripoli yesterday marking Gaddafi’s 40 years in power. One diplomat described the list of international pariahs in attendance as “a gallery of grotesques”. That includes shunned Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and a notorious Somali pirate leader. Only the Maltese and Serbian leaders attended out of Europe’s heads of state.
The International Herald Tribune covers yesterday’s ceremony in Gdank, Poland, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of World War Two. In a move to calm recent tensions over conflicting versions of history, Vladimir Putin praised Polish soldiers and citizens for their wartime bravery.
This has somewhat softened the blow of the Russian government having released documents alleging that Poland cooperated with Nazi Germany before the War. Many in Poland are angry that Russia has not apologised for atrocities committed by the Soviet Union in eastern Poland after its troops occupied part of the country following the Nazi invasion of Western Poland.
The Korean American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, released from captivity in North Korea last month, have broken their silence about their experience in the Los Angeles Times. They want to publicise the story they were trying to cover. They wanted to cover North Korean defectors, in particular women, who have fled to China due to poor living conditions. Many are forced into prostitution or arranged marriages. Women in particular who had fled to China. Ling and Lee claim they had no intention of entering China but their fixer brought them to the border crossing where these defectors cross into China. This is where North Korean border guards arrested them.
They ended up being detained for several months and to minimise the impact of their investigation, they destroyed the information they had gathered, in part by eating some of the documents.
The Irish Times leads with a photo of Mohammad Ali being feted in the town of Ennis, County Clare where his great grandfather, Abe Grady came from. It was “one of the most exciting days of his life,” according to his wife. Speaking to Irish television, she said that her husband had never seen anything like it before and was overwhelmed by the experience. Ali was awarded the “Freedom of the town” in a ceremony attended by 10,000 people.