Megrahi’s involvement or otherwise in the Lockerbie bombing has sharply polarised opinion throughout the world but it’s the manner of his release from jail that has caused problems for the Scottish Government.
However expensive to maintain, would it not have been better to have transferred him to secure accommodation within Scotland while his health deteriorated and prevented the disgraceful scenes at Tripoli Airport where he was welcomed as a hero?
It must have been dreadful for the relatives of the Lockerbie victims to have witnessed that on television with the Scottish flag so prominent and one can understand their revulsion.
There is also the suspicion that Megrahi’s release was part of a deal which the UK government made with Gaddafi over oil. It is likely that we will never know the whole truth as we can’t trust politicians to tell it.
No serious allegation of a miscarriage of justice should ever be time-barred.
For the benefit of all the victims’ families, and the reputation of the Scottish legal system, the case for an internationally backed inquiry must follow the demise of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in 1988.
Investigative journalists in the coming months and years will continue to unearth relevant material, and no doubt individuals with something crucial to say about the atrocity.
It is as well that all that information should come before a United Nations-backed inquiry soon.
The death of Megrahi should not be seen as a barrier to progress. One of the most famous post-war miscarriages of justice – the execution of Timothy Evans for murders in Notting Hill in 1950 – was only finally accepted by most some 16 years after the event.
It took 17 years for those convicted of the Birmingham bombings in 1974 to be released. Painstaking campaigns were the hallmark of the efforts to obtain justice.
The Lockerbie case obviously differs in complexity and degree and in one other major respect: it is inextricably linked with geo-political factors. Was Libya involved alone?
Did it conspire with Iran to exact revenge for earlier American attacks on Libya and an Iranian aircraft?
Did oil deals, the lifting of sanctions and the strong desire to combat terrorism play a part in eventually surrendering Megrahi for trial at Camp Zeist?
A layman might be excused for thinking that it is impossible to get to the truth given the desire of so many vested interests to protect themselves.
That in itself is no excuse for not trying to do so.
All those bereaved will surely gain succour from a concerted effort to unveil exactly what went on in the months leading up to that dreadful December day more than 23 years ago.