Qaddafi's death: Will the ICC launch a war-crimes investigation?
International Criminal Court prosecutor Ocampo is asking the UN for authority to investigate the death Libyan leader Qaddafi as a war crime.
2011 Reflections: Suddenly, a new era in the Middle East
2011 Reflections: the end of a landmark year for Latin America
2011 Reflections: Africa rises, taking charge of its affairs
How the 'Year of the Protester' played out in Europe
In Prague, a tale of communism past
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Captured by Libyan rebels outside his hometown of Sirte on Oct. 20, Qaddafi was killed by a mob of National Transitional Council soldiers and put on display in a freezer room in Misurata, as proof that he had been killed.
The circumstances of Qaddafi’s death raise “serious suspicions” that he may have been killed in custody, which is a violation of international law, Mr. Ocampo told the United Nations, in requesting the authority to investigate.
“The death of Muammar Gadhafi is one of the issues to be clarified — what happened — because there are serious suspicions that it was a war crime,” Moreno Ocampo said.
Reuters news agency quoted Ocampo as saying:
"I think that's a very important issue. We are raising this concern to the national authorities and they are preparing a plan to have a comprehensive strategy to investigate all these crimes."
What makes this case important to watch, besides the legal procedures and the outcome, is the way in which this case is perceived in the 54 capital cities of Africa. Since its inception in 2002, the International Criminal Court has only arrested and put on trial African suspects, from the Congolese warlord Thomas Lubunga to Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to the six Kenyan leaders accused of orchestrating post-election violence in 2008. ICC charges have also been lodged against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for crimes committed during the counterinsurgency in Darfur, although no country has complied with ICC requests for his arrest.
For skeptics, the ICC is a rich man’s court to try poor men. When an African leader launches a war that kills thousands, he is taken to The Hague, skeptics say. Why don’t Western leaders like George W. Bush – who also launched wars that killed thousands, and who authorized “enhanced interrogation techniques” of terror suspects in US custody – also get prosecuted at the ICC?