Colonel Gaddafi continues to be surrounded by controversy in death, as he was in life. The world continues to discuss the circumstances of his death, and argue about whether he should have been killed in this manner after he was captured still alive or whether he should have been brought to trial. What is clear is that the story that he was killed in an exchange of fire between pro-Gaddafi fighters and Libyan rebels after he was captured has failed to convince anybody. In the video clips taken by camera phones and broadcast in various media, the world witnessed Gaddafi – still alive – being captured and led away by the rebels, and we also saw him being beaten –with blood running down the side of his face – and then falling to the ground before he appears – in another video clip – clearly dead from a gunshot wound to the left side of his head. As a consequence, there is every reason to believe that Gaddafi was executed [by the Libyan rebels] in those moments where joy mixed with rage; where celebrations overlapped with calls for revenge and retaliation.
The circumstances of Gaddafi’s death, which occurred during these hazy moments, has dominated Libya’s celebration of the end of his regime, whilst also disrupting the media coverage of the Libyan rebels victory and the fall of the last stronghold of the former regime. With the continuance of the debate surrounding Gaddafi’s death, and increased international pressure and calls for this to be investigated, the National Transitional Council [NTC] has decided it will announce an investigation into this! At the same time, it was announced that Gaddafi’s body would not be put on display, after this was kept in a cold storage for a number of days during which time people came from all over to see his body and take souvenir photos before it decomposed. It was clear that there were difference s over where Gaddafi should be buried; in the same manner as there were differences – in the beginning – about where he should be transferred after his capture, and then again after his death. As a result of this, there were many conflicting stories and statements, before it was finally decided that Gaddafi would be buried in the desert.
The Libyans paid a heavy price to secure their freedom and end the rule of Colonel Gaddafi who suffocated the Libyan people for 42 years. More than 30 thousand Libyans were killed during the uprising (with some claiming this number is closer to 50 thousand), whilst a similar number were wounded. Whilst thousands more people disappeared during the bloody clashes that lasted approximately 8 months after Colonel Gaddafi declared war against his own people. The Libyan people suffered greatly during this period, with the Colonel Gaddafi regime utilizing every tool of death and intimidation in its possession to suppress the Libyan uprising. Gaddafi unleashed his battalions to kill, torture, and rape; whilst he also recruited mercenaries and besieged cities, cutting off their water and electricity supply, as well as preventing food and medicine from reaching the people. It was clear from the Colonel Gaddafi’s actions and his fiery speeches that he would not stop with killing and destruction, even after NATO intervened to support the Libyan rebels and he found himself under siege at last remaining stronghold.
As a result of all of this, it was certain that Gaddafi’s end would either be fleeing Libya, on the run, pursued by his own country and the International Criminal Court [ICC], or imprisonment [in Libya] awaiting trial, or death. Many people feared Gaddafi remaining at large, as he would have remained a cause for panic and unrest, and a source of destabilization for the new situation in Libya. Whilst others were of the view that should Gaddafi be captured and surrendered to the ICC [to face charges of crimes against humanity], this would mean years of waiting and court hearings which Gaddafi would turn into a stage to put forward his ludicrous views and exercise his acting talents. This is not to mention the fact that Gaddafi would know that this court would never sentence him to death, but rather in the end he would be sentenced to imprisonment where he could await circumstance that might permit his release as part of a political deal.
There can be no doubt that every person that supported the Libyan revolution hoped to see Gaddafi arrested or – following a trial in which he was held accountable for all his crimes against Libya and its people – executed. However nobody wanted his death to occur in this way, namely a manner which has overshadowed the victory of the Libyan people who have paid the highest price of all with regards to all the [Arab] revolutions and uprisings that were sparked by the Tunisian revolution. It would have been better and less disheartening if he Gaddafi was killed during capture, without all these scenes of torture and abuse. However for Gaddafi to be killed in this manner, with the scenes of torture and abuse being broadcast across the world, there can be no doubt that this has taken away from the glow of the Libyan rebels’ victory, and raised difficult moral questions. The Libyans, who fought to escape the injustice of Colonel Gaddafi and his tyrannical regime, have found themselves in a situation where they now need to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death or execution of other [Gaddafi] prisoners, rather than basking in the joy of their victory without facing questions, like: how can people carry out such acts, which are similar to the transgressions of the regime they fought against?
Some people may not like such talk, particularly those who believe that Gaddafi deserved to be killed without mercy or pity because he killed people in the most horrendous manner, whilst his regime practiced the worst methods of torture and abuse, mistreating the Libyan people until during his last days when Gaddafi described the rebels as “rats” and famously asked “who are you?” However there are no easy answers to this issue. Libya wants and hopes for a new regime that does not resemble the regime of Colonel Gaddafi in any way, shape, or form…both with regards to its practices and its ethics. Therefore, there is no choice but to look at what happened [with regards to Gaddafi’s death], and prevent tyranny and the spirit of anger and revenge to prevail over the spirit of the revolution.
In his speech in which he announced that Libya is free and had been liberated [from Gaddafi rule], NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil called for tolerance, peace, patience, and for people to respect the law and not take this into their own hands. This is what Libya needs in the coming period, for the mission now is not just to rebuild what was destroyed during the [civil] war, but rather to open a new page of tolerance and coexistence to build a new Libya; discarding the rule of individuals, establishing a peaceful and democratic transfer of power, consolidating the rule of law, and ensuring that no party resorts to arms to resolve any disputes that may occur in the coming difficult period, which will require the maximum amount of awareness and discipline on the part of the Libyan people for the sake of the homeland.