Omar Ashour: Why Libyans won't let Saif go easily

Share
Related Topics

The arrest of Saif Gaddafi yesterday marks the end of the last influential figure in the Gaddafi family. I met Saif twice. And based on my experience, he will not disappear without creating controversy.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant for Saif's arrest. And after the fate of his father, Muammar Gaddafi, many in the international community would like to see him tried by the ICC. Libya's legal system is extremely underdeveloped, and Colonel Gaddafi never attempted to change that during his 42-year era.

"So what?" responded a Libyan friend who fought in Misrata. "He killed Libyans in Libya. He should not be tried, punished or executed anywhere else." This feeling is common. Many of the fighters who captured Saif had family members killed because of the repressive policies of Gaddafi and his sons. Arguing that Gaddafi did not develop a legal system in which his son could be tried seems futile.

The same applies to the argument that the ICC is the only legal body that issued an international arrest warrant for Saif and that therefore he should be handed over to it. Neither the ICC nor the National Transitional Council (NTC) is in full control of the brigade that caught Saif.

The NTC, and many of its figures, want to remain popular. Handing Saif to the ICC will not win them any popularity. Any Libyan politician who dares to hand him over will probably face popular outrage, political outbidding and, possibly, an armed response. Unless the NTC receives major incentives, the chances of it handing Saif to the ICC are slim.

What makes Saif worthy of capture, not killing, is the information he has. This includes details of decision-making during the revolution, the brutal crackdown on Misrata, al-Zintan and elsewhere, and his international links. Many Libyan officials will want to keep this in Libya.

Finally, the question of justice. An international trial for Saif would be a media circus. He likes to play the hero whenever he gets a chance. He will not get this chance in Libya, just like his victims in Misrata, Tripoli, Benghazi and elsewhere. They are the true heroes.

Dr Omar Ashour is the director of Middle East graduate studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, and the author of 'The De-Radicalization of Jihadists: Transforming Armed Islamist Movements'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband created a crisis of confidence about himself within Labour when he forgot to mention the deficit in his party conference speech  

The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election

Andrew Grice
 

Beware of the jovial buffoon who picks fights overseas

Boyd Tonkin
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect