Monday, October 24, 2011

No impunity for arbitrary killing of Muammar Gaddafi

There is reason to believe that Muammar Gaddafi, former leader of Libya, was summarily executed on 20 October 2011 in custody of rebel forces in Sirte - in violation of the rule of law and laws of war. There should be no impunity for such a high profile arbitrary killing in a "liberated" Libya.

News of the capture of Muammar Gaddafi took the world by storm and there was great expectation that the strongman would face justice in a national or international court for crimes allegedly committed during his 42-year tyrannic rule and more recently during a brutal crackdown on popular protests that broke out in February.

A few minutes after news of the capture, it was reported that the "big fish" had been killed in a "cross fire" between fighters loyal to him and opposition fighters. This was confirmed by the Chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC). However, shocking video footage of the capture revealed that Gaddafi was captured alive, beaten, wounded and possibly executed by the rebels.

Graphic video clips of a bloodied and inhumanely treated Gaddafi posted on the internet attracted condemnation from rights groups. New York-based Human Rights Watch reported that there is evidence that suggest that Gaddafi might have been summarily executed in the custody of opposition fighters from Misrata. The rights group urged the NTC to investigate the deaths of Gaddafi and his son.

According to Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, "there is ample evidence" to launch an investigation into the unexpected deaths of Muammar Gaddafi and his son Muatassim Gaddafi - captured alive on the same day.

Peter Bouckaert, Emmergencies Director at Human Rights Watch, was in Sirte to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Muammar Gaddafi and his son. Peter Bouckaert visited the scene of the battle that culminated in the capture of the Gaddafis and reported his findings in a video that was shared on Twitter by Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch.

There should be no impunity for arbitrary killing.

On 23 October 2011, doctors conducted an autopsy on the body of Muammar Gaddafi at a hospital in Misrata and confirmed that the toppled leader died of a gunshot wound to the head. It remains unclear who fired the fatal shot. This should be impartially investigated.

All Libyans are entitled to equal protection of the law. This includes all those accused of serious crimes, including captured supporters of Muammar Gaddafi.

*Photo source: The Guardian.

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