Don't we wish we had Gaddafi alive?

Robert Halfon MP asks the serious question pertaining to the killing on Muammar Gaddafi and the implications for Libyan justice.

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Muammar Gaddafi and his son Saif al Islam
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Robert Halfon MP
On 22 October 2011 10:58

So Gaddafi has finally gone.

For at least two generations of Libyans, this will be a strange sensation. For families and friends of those murdered from Gaddafi terrorist atrocities, some sense of relief. Relief too for those Jews and Italians, who had their homes and businesses stolen by the regime.

Justification for neoconservatives who believe in intervention to stop dictatorship. Courage for the Prime Minister and armed forces, who acted to stop the genocide of the people of Benghazi. Hope for oppressed people in other dictatorships - that a tyrant can be destroyed.

And yet and yet.... whilst Gaddafi's death means vengeance, it doesn't necessarily signify justice. If he had been kept alive, he could have appeared in the International Court, to be questioned for war-crimes.

It might have been possible to find out about his activities with terrorist groups such as the IRA, the Lockerbie bombing and much more besides. We might even have gained a real insight into the dictator's close relationship with members of the last government.

Through a trial the people of Libya would have been able to demonstrate a respect for the rule of law, and the workings of newly open and democratic legal system.

I am not saying Gaddafi should never have been put to death. Far from it: the experience of Nuremburg after the second world war, makes the case for those who carry out mass murder and organise genocide to face capital punishment.

There would have been a strong suit for Gaddafi - if he had been convicted by the International Court, to be put to death: although that should have been a matter for the Libyan people to decide.

If reports are accurate, it may be that there is still a chance to capture members of Gaddafi's immediate family and entourage - especially his son: 'LSE PhD'er', Saif. Every possible effort should be made to ensure that they face the courts.

Only then can those who fight for freedom, ever have any chance of ensuring that vengeance-and justice-go hand in hand.

Robert Halfon is the Member of Parliament for Harlow. You can follow his blog here and follow him on Twitter here.

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