Wednesday, 23 November 2011


I understand Libya’s desire to try Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in Libya. They want and need to prove their ability to exercise restraint, self-control and maturity as a fledgling democracy after 42 years of ruthless dictatorship.

Regardless of the crimes committed by Colonel Gaddafi, there was no right or justification to meet out to him the horrifying end to which he and his other son Mutassim Gaddafi were subjected.

In the western democracies it is incomprehensible to imagine the general public having the ability for a free for all at an airport to literally swamp the aircraft in which their captive is held, immediately it has landed.

No. Try as I might I cannot believe that Saif Gaddafi would not have been in grave danger had the country’s security not been able to contain the situation, a matter perhaps made slightly easier for them in achieving, knowing that the great democracies looked on and would not hesitate to express collective disapproval.

The right venue for the international charges laid before Saif Gaddafi is the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. This will not detract from Libya’s status as a young democracy.

The Libyan Government is resisting this. They have permitted an inspection by the ICC this week, and the ICC has made an earnest recommendation to be allowed to conduct proceedings in Libya.

In The Times today, 23 November, there is much speculation about the nature of the injury to Saif Gadaffi’s hand, heavily bandaged. On his capture, he was quoted by the captors as saying that the injury was from NATO bombing a month earlier. That may be so. But now we read that the injury is not necessarily consistent with bombing. Rather, the fingers appear to have been amputated. The article surmises whether Saif Gadaffi’s belligerence earlier in the year when he gesticulated repeatedly with those fingers as to what would happen to those in uprising, is nothing more than yet another example of Middle Eastern Peoples applying their own very literal and medieval form of justice.

The Guardian reported yesterday, 22 November, on a separate article about Syria, that Syrian children have been castrated, whilst others have had their fingernails removed.

All I know is this. The Middle Eastern Peoples have a very, very long way to go before they can stand alongside the great democracies on the matter of not applying “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, which to apply literally in this 21st Century is an abhorrence.

Ian Bradley Marshall

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