[This is the headline over the lead story by Campbell Gunn in today's edition of The Sunday Post, Scotland's largest-circulation Sunday newspaper. It reads as follows:]
Nelson Mandela has backed Kenny MacAskill’s decision to release convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.
The former South African president has retired from public life and no longer wishes to be involved in public issues.
But on Friday he sent a letter via his Nelson Mandela Foundation to the Scottish Government supporting the decision made on compassionate grounds by the Justice Secretary.
The move will be welcomed by the Scottish Government, which has consistently claimed, while there has been heavy criticism from the United States over the release, the majority of world opinion is supportive.
It will also ease the pressure that has been building on Mr MacAskill.
Professor Jakes Gerwel, chairman of the Mandela Foundation, said in the letter, “Mr Mandela appreciates the decision to release Mr al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.
“Mr Mandela played a central role in facilitating the handover of Mr al-Megrahi and his fellow accused to the United Nations in order for them to stand trial under Scottish Law in the Netherlands.”
“His interest and involvement continued after the trial,” said the professor.
“The decision to release him now, and allow him to return to Libya, is one which is in line with his wishes.”
Mr Mandela visited al-Megrahi while he was in Barlinnie Prison, in June 2002, spending an hour with him and calling for him to be moved to a Muslim country.
He also played a key role in persuading Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi to hand over al-Megrahi and his co-accused Khalifa Fhima for trial in a neutral country for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103, which killed 270 people.
President Mandela helped resolve the dispute between Libya, the US and the UK over bringing to trial the two Libyans indicted for the Lockerbie bombing.
In 1992, Mandela approached president George Bush with a proposal to have the two indicted Libyans tried in a third country and suggested South Africa. Bush was in favour but the plan was rejected by British prime minister John Major.
However, when the idea was suggested to Tony Blair, after he became PM, it was accepted and Holland was chosen as the neutral venue for the trial.
Yesterday, al-Megrahi said he was determined to clear his name and claimed a full inquiry into the events surrounding Lockerbie would help families of the victims discover the truth behind the bombing.
First Minister Alex Salmond has welcomed Mr Mandela’s support.
“The overall international reaction shows strong support for the decision to show compassion to a dying man, according to the due process of Scots Law,” he said.
“And that is clearly the view of the person who has demonstrated that quality above all others over the last generation.”
[The same newspaper carries a report on the statement by Eddie MacKechnie, Abdelbaset Megrahi's former solicitor, noted on 24 August on this blog. As far as I can see, it is the only newspaper to have picked it up.
Other newspapers -- for example The Sunday Herald, whose story can be read here -- are still harping on about the medical evidence underpinning Kenny MacAskill's decision. As I wrote on 28 August:
'The position is quite simply this. Specialist oncologists simply are not prepared to tell a patient, or anyone else who may want to know, how long that person has to live. They regard their function as being to provide or advise on the best care and treatment for the patient for however long or short a period he may have left to him. This means that if a patient, or anyone else with a need to know, insists on being provided with a time scale, this must be provided, not by the cancer specialists, but by the ordinary general practitioner attending the patient who must do his best, with his overall knowledge of the patient and the progess of the disease, to translate the specialists’ views into weeks or months.
'That is precisely what has happened in Abdelbaset Megrahi’s case. The newspapers and politicians who have sought to read something sinister and underhand into the medical aspects of Kenny MacAskill’s decision should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, particularly that vocal Labour MSP who is himself a medical practitioner.']