Libyans untroubled by dictator’s bloody death

By Rania El Gamal, Reuters

MISRATA, Libya–Libyans lining up in dozens to view Moammar Gadhafi’s body on Saturday shared none of the West’s qualms about the fact he was killed while in the hands of the fighters who captured him. They said if he had stayed alive, he could still have rallied his supporters to continue an insurgency against Libya’s new rulers, and that the International Criminal Court (ICC) would have given him just a few years in prison. Gadhafi was captured in his hometown of Sirte on Thursday in the final act of a violent rebellion against his 42-year rule. Amateur video footage showed a dazed and bloodied Gadhafi being manhandled by an angry crowd. Minutes later he was dead, prompting suspicions — denied by Libya’s new government — that he was killed by his captors. Asked if it would not have been better for him to stand trial, Abdulatif, a pilot, said: “What would he tell the mother whose children were killed or the girls who were raped?”

“If he lived and was killed a thousand times, that would still only be a trifle,” he said outside the metal cold storage container in Misrata, 200 kilometers (130) miles east of the Libyan capital, where Gadhafi’s body was on public view. “If you give him to the international court he will be living in luxury in Switzerland, and then maybe he will be given a sentence of 10 years in prison. So it is better that he was killed.” After the gory footage of the moments leading up to Gadhafi’s death was seen by the world, the United Nations called for an investigation into how he died. The United States asked the Libyan authorities to give a full and transparent account of what happened. None of the dozens of people queuing outside the cold store to see Gadhafi’s body on Saturday shared any of these concerns. “It was better that he was executed. You want to know why? Because he still has helpers and those helpers will continue killing us,” said Mohammed, also a pilot. People in Misrata hold a particular hatred for the dead leader because their city suffered more than any other during the anti-Gadhafi rebellion. His forces kept it under siege for months and bombarded its buildings, even hospitals, with artillery. Hassen Al-Setini, 32, said the international court, which has a warrant for Gadhafi’s arrest, would be too lenient. “It is better that he died. You never know, maybe his lawyer could have set him free,” he said. “If he stayed alive to be tried, his supporters would continue fighting. The head of the snake has died.”