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Compensation, Retribution, Vengeance; Making Gaddafi’s victims pay.

October 28, 2011

There must be lots of people  all over the world, especially journalists and politicians, trying to figure out what the sleeping issues might be, now that Gaddafi is dead.   What are the stories whose implications have been overlooked in all the excitement and horror of the last 8 months, especially the last week?

One issue that has been lying about like a crocodile just under the surface, is to do with compensation, retribution and even vengeance against the newly liberated people of Libya.  Victims of the Lockerbie bombing want money, victims of IRA bombings (Libyan semtex, Gaddafi-trained terrorists) want money,  Britain’s Tory MP, Daniel  Kawczynski wants £300 million to cover the cost of Britain’s support in the war.  And it seems that Gaddafi’s family want Libya’s interim authorities and NATO pursued for war crimes.

The Lockerbie bombing and The IRA bombings were dreadful crimes.  The loss of innocent, uninvolved lives and the grief of families and friends left behind is truly awful to contemplate.  And it’s not difficult at all to understand that the families of those victims might want someone to pay.

In the case of the Lockerbie bombing, substantial monetary compensation has already been paid, both by Pan Am and by Gaddafi’s Libya.  Some, although not all of the victims of the IRA bombings have also been compensated.  Colin Parry, the father of a young boy who was one of the victims of the Warrington bombing has remarked recently that he hopes Gaddafi’s death will open the way for compensation for those cases that have not yet been concluded.

And Britain’s PM, David Cameron, intends to pursue the issue of compensation for victims of the IRA bombings.

“It’s a vitally important issue. There is no doubt that the Libyan provision of Semtex to the IRA was immensely damaging over many years and possibly even still today.

“I think we need to be very clear that this is going to be an important bilateral issue between Britain and the new Libyan authorities. We have got to let this Government get its feet under the desk but it is very high up my list of items.” Read more:

Tory MP, Daniel Kawczynski, erring perhaps on the silly side, wants £300 million from the Libyan people.

His reason? Disquiet amongst his constituents at:

“…the prospect of when they have local libraries being closed and pressure on public services as a result of the economic difficulties that our country are facing, they find it difficult to comprehend how we could be spending this amount of money abroad in pursuing the liberation of Libya whilst having to make cutbacks in our own country.”

Yes, you heard him right: Libya should pay the costs of their liberation because his constituents are upset at the library closures and public sector cuts his party instigated and he voted for. This is not so much balancing the books off the backs of the poorest in Britain – as is Osborne’s strategy – but balancing the books off the backs of the victims of Gaddafi. (From Shamik Das, Left Foot Forward.)

Yes, that is the question.  Who will be paying this compensation?  Gaddafi’s Libya no longer exists, and any compensation successfully claimed now will come out of the pockets of the Libyan people, the vast majority of whom  had nothing whatsoever to do with any of it, and are indeed victims themselves, the vast majority living in poverty and fear all those years. Perhaps at least some of those pursuing compensation will come to the conclusion that the person they really need to be suing is dead, and that maybe they should be pursuing his family and their ill-gotten wealth, rather than his other victims.

And as for the family.  It has been reported that Gaddafi’s wife, Safia, and other relatives have been putting pressure on the UN to prosecute NATO for firing on her husband’s motorcade, and the interim authorities for the way her husband was killed. She’s claiming war crimes.  In this she  has joined forces with lots of other voices that have been raised in horror at the way Gaddafi was treated after his capture. Apparently Safia Gaddafi was reported on Syrian TV as saying that she was proud of her husband’s courage and of her children, who stood up to 40 countries during the past 6 months, and that she considers them to be martyrs.

To some extent, Libya’s interim PM, Mahmoud Jibril, took the wind out of the sails of outrage by promising, very soon after Gaddafi’s death, that a full enquiry would be held into the circumstances.  That promise has been reportedly repeated several times since. But more important than any of this is the need for the interim authorities to make it perfectly clear to everyone in Libya that reprisals will not be tolerated.

Yes, it does seem that Mrs Gaddafi’s husband was mistreated dreadfully after his capture – possibly murdered.  But what about all the other war crimes?  What about the thousands that were killed, many in summary executions?  (On both sides?)  What about her husband’s appalling behaviour during every one of those 42 years?  As his wife, wasn’t  she a co-conspirator – in fact, if not in law?

‘Hi, Honey.  I’m home.’

‘Hi darling.  And how many of those nasty riff-raff did you ‘disappear’ today, sweetie-pie?’

Let’s get a little perspective.  A little decorum, please.

Truly, words almost fail me, except to remark that that family has more neck than a herd of giraffes.

From → Gaddafi, IRA, Libya, Lockerbie

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