The Lockerbie bomber was paid up to £15million by Colonel Gaddafi’s regime to “buy his silence” over who really blew up a passenger jet over the Scottish town.
This is the latest claim by outgoing Libyan leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil.
He said Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was paid 150,000 euros a month.
From his arrest in 1999 to his release in 2009, that would total £14.6million.
Jalil denied ever saying the late tyrant personally ordered the bombing, adding: “All I said is that the regime was involved.”
He said Megrahi, who protested his innocence over the 1988 atrocity in which 270 people died, was ordered to drop his appeal by Gaddafi who feared the truth would be revealed.
[This story was reported in a post on this blog more than three weeks ago, on 21 June 2012. The Express has always been at the forefront of news-gathering and dissemination, of course.
A longer report by Ben Borland is the front page lead story in the Scottish edition of today's Sunday Express. It reads in part:]
The head of the Libyan government has revealed his country's true role in the Lockerbie bomber's release in a sensational television interview.
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who has been running the war-torn North African state since the downfall of Colonel Gaddafi last year, broke his silence to expose the contents of secret government files in Tripoli.
He revealed that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi - the only man convicted of Britain's worst ever terror atrocity - and his family were paid up to £15million in monthly installments to "buy his silence".
Jalil also disclosed that Megrahi was ordered to drop his appeal by Gaddafi, who was terrified he would "release critical and confidential information" and have his conviction overturned.
In addition, Jalil said the new regime would continue to work with Scottish and American investigators to "reopen past files that can deliver the truth".
And, in a further astonishing claim, he suggested that Gaddafi deliberately blew up a Libyan passenger jet in 1992 in a ruthless tit-for-tat bid to frame the West.
Speaking to Dubai-based TV station Al Arabiya, Jalil - the head of the ruling National Transitional Council - said Megrahi was paid 150,000 Euros per month "to keep him quiet".
If the payments ran from when he was handed over to Scottish police, in April 1999, to his release in August 2009, they would total 18.6million Euros - or £14.6million at today's exchange rates.
In the interview, Jalil - who was also Gaddafi's Justice Minister from 2007 to 2011 - said he had been "advised to keep away from cases linked to external affairs, and this includes the Lockerbie case".
He added: "However, I witnessed two things. First, the insistence of both Saif [al-Islam Gaddafi, the dictator's son] and his father that I get back [Megrahi] by whatever means necessary...
"Meanwhile, the sentence was not completed and the appeal was getting closer.
"But the insistence of the country for Abdelbaset to waive his appeal and his fast return indicates the country was in a crisis, considering that the late Abdelbaset wanted to release critical and confidential information about Lockerbie."
Megrahi's decision to drop his appeal, just days before his release from prison, has always been shrouded in mystery - especially because he continued to protest his innocence right up until his death in May.
Jalil added: "The Libyans wanted him back as soon as possible, in return for the waiver of the appeal. If the appeal had persisted maybe some critical evidence that proved his innocence would have surfaced.
"And perhaps evidence that convicted him would have resurfaced as well. So, they preferred that he returns to Libya at this point to ensure that he does not reveal confidential information."
However, he insisted he had been misquoted by a Swedish newspaper last year which claimed he had evidence that Gaddafi personally ordered the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which claimed 270 lives.
He said: "All I said then is what I say right now, which is that the regime was involved in this case, evident by insisting he returns and that they spent a lot of money on him while he was in jail."
Jalil also hinted at the existence of government files which could finally establish once and for all whether the bombing was the work of Megrahi and other Libyan agents, under orders from Gaddafi - or was in fact an Iranian-backed plot, as many campaigners believe.
He said: "We sympathize with the families of the innocent victims and we are willing to reopen past files that can deliver the truth."
Megrahi, who developed terminal prostate cancer during eight years behind bars in Scotland, is known to have had a number of Swiss bank accounts, including one which allegedly held £1.8million at the time of his trial in 2000.
But the full extent of the fortune paid to ensure his silence will appal many of those who lost loved ones in December 1988.
However, campaigners calling for a public inquiry into Lockerbie said the new evidence supports claims that Megrahi was simply a well-paid "fall guy".
Robert Black, Professor of Scots Law at the University of Edinburgh, said: "He was getting a lot of money because he had taken the fall for something he didn't do.
"By surrendering himself for trial in Scotland he brought Libya under Gaddafi back into world commerce. That was something the Libyans thought worth paying for."