Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only person ever convicted for the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing, died of prostate cancer Sunday, three years after Scottish authorities released him on "compassionate" grounds because doctors said he had just three months to live. Megrahi served only eight years of a 27-year sentence, and British Prime Minister David Cameron said Megrahi should never have been freed. But Megrahi's family maintains that he was innocent. Will Megrahi's death bring closure to the relatives of the 270 victims, or is the news that Megrahi died surrounded by his loving relations just one last injustice?
Megrahi got compassion he didn't deserve: "Megrahi is gone and the world is a better place," says Mike Lupica at the New York Daily News, but he never should have been released in the first place. "He was a mass murderer as much as the plotters and pilots on Sept. 11 in 2001 were mass murderers." He was given the chance to go home to Libya, say his good-byes to his wife and children, and "fight for his miserable life. The passengers on (Pan Am flight) 103 never had a chance."
"So many dreams of what might have been blown out of the sky over Lockerbie in '88"
He might have been unfairly convicted: Megrahi's death marks "a closure of sorts," says Britain's Independent in an editorial, because it marks an end to the "diplomatic embarrassment" over his release and "hero's welcome" in Libya. But a review commission which submitted its report before his release found suggestions that his conviction might have been a "miscarriage of justice," and a relative of one of the British victims said Megrahi was the tragedy's "271st victim." Scotland should open a new inquiry, and find the truth.
"No closure for Lockerbie families"
Unfortunately, now we'll never know: It seems plausible that Megrahi was just "a scapegoat," says Rick Moran at The American Thinker. The evidence against him was "largely circumstantial." But it's equally plausible that Megrahi, once a Libyan intelligence officer, played a key role in a plot hatched by Moammar Gadhafi to strike the U.S. by bringing down a plane with 189 Americans on board. Now, we may never know, because "whatever role he played, he took that information to the grave."
"Lockerbie bomber finally dies"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- In defense of Gwyneth Paltrow
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- Alien conspiracy theorists think the government is on the verge of spilling big secrets
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
Subscribe to the Week