An unsatisfactory conclusion

So Abdelbaset al-Basit al-Megrahi has abandoned his appeal against his conviction for the Lockerbie bombing and will now presumably be allowed to return to Libya on compassionate grounds, to live out his last days there before he finally succumbs to his prostate cancer. And a long and controversial chapter in British legal history somes to an end.
Al-Meghrahi was found guilty by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands with a panel of judges and no jury. The case against him appears to be flimsy – the Crown’s star witness was shopkeeper Tony Gaudi who sold the clothes which were in the suitcase containing the bomb originally gave a description which bore little resemblance to al-Megrahi and eventually only identified him after seeing his photo in a magazine which named him as the suspect. The only hard evidence was a fragment of a circuit board said to come from a timer of a type used by the Libyan secret service. Against that, the bomb is known¬†to have been concealed in a Toshiba cassette recorder of the type previously used by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLB), the group initially thought to be responsible for the bombing.
The other evidence is circumstantial at best – for example there is no real evidence that the suitcase containing the bomb was put on the plane in Malta, as claimed by the Crown. Certainly some of the families of those who died in the bombing are unconvinced.
We don’t know what the result of al-Megrahi’s appeal would have been, and the government was trying to supress certain documents which were crucial to his case. But this outcome suits no-one – for those who believe he is guilty the perpetrator of one of the worst terrorist outrages of modern times will now be free, for those not convinced the questions remain. All in all an unsatisfatory end to a controversial and, of course, tragic saga.