Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds. Compassion is a good thing, right? If you know that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi is better known as "The Lockerbie Bomber," does that change your level of compassion? If you know that this man was the only person convicted of the explosion of a bomb hidden in the cargo hold of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie killed all two hundred and fifty-nine people on the plane as well as eleven others on the ground, would it flavor your thoughts? If you knew that most of those on board the plane were American?
For the record, the Scottish government was comfortable with the decision to set him free. Comfortable until a crowd threw rose petals and cheered al-Megrahi at the airport in Libya after they heard of his return through the media and spontaneously chose to greet him. "It is a matter of great regret that Mister al-Megrahi was received in such an inappropriate manner," Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill told the Scottish parliament. "It showed no compassion or sensitivity to the families of the two hundred seventy victims of Lockerbie." That's the tough thing about compassion, or any emotion for that matter, you can't always be sure you'll get back what you put in.
By Libyan standards, the reception Mister al-Megrahi received was muted at best, but rose petals? Perhaps that has some ceremonial connection to the terminal case of prostate cancer for which he was released. A symbol of compassion, perhaps.