Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Gaddafi and sons should face international justice

22nd August 2011

Col. Muammar Gaddafi and his sons should be put before the International Criminal Court to answer for their crimes against the Libyan people, Dr Charles Tannock MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists Group foreign affairs coordinator, said today as the Libyan capital Tripoli looked set to fall to rebel forces, thus ending one of the Arab world’s most nefarious, long-lasting and corrupt dictatorships.

Dr Tannock said the rebel advance was not only a reflection of the Libyan people’s courageous determination to overthrow Gaddafi but it vindicated UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to back the rebels politically and press for the UN resolution that subsequently led to the authorised NATO air operations against Gaddafi’s forces to protect civilians.

He urged the rebels to resist the temptation to deliver summary justice to Gaddafi, which would deny the wider world an opportunity to make the autocrat answer for his bloody rule. He also calls for apprehended mercenaries to be subject to legal due process and if they have not been implicated in war crimes to be repatriated as a priority with NATO assistance to their countries of origin.

Dr Tannock added that throughout his 42-year rule Gaddafi has been an enthusiastic and active sponsor of terrorism, either through his own state apparatus – such as the Lockerbie bombing of 1988 – or via terrorist groups such as the Irish Republican Army or even the Marxist narcoterrorist FARC group in Colombia.

The MEP said that if the ICC indictment fell for whatever reason, or if Gaddafi and his sons were found not guilty by the tribunal, the UK should look to put the tyrant on trial for IRA terrorism-related offences against British citizens and the murder of PC Fletcher.

Dr Tannock further called on the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, to mobilise all available resources to support the rebels in their efforts to build a new state. It is essential the international community does not repeat the mistakes after the fall of Saddam Hussein after the invasion of Iraq by a witch hunt against all those associated with the ancien regime and it is vital only those with blood on their hands should be subject to arrest and trial.

Dr Tannock said:

“The rebels have shown great courage and conviction in pushing for Gaddafi’s overthrow. I salute the courage of the young men who have fought so bravely for freedom in their country.

“There will be a temptation to deliver victor’s justice to Gaddafi and his sons but that temptation must be resisted.

“It’s vitally important that the rebels respect the will of the international community, which has of course backed the rebels strongly, and deliver up this brutal tyrant to face justice at the International Criminal Court.

“Gaddafi has much to answer for.

“The ICC indictment deals only with the current internal conflict but we should not forget that for decades Gaddafi has been supporting terrorism, either through the Libyan state or via terrorist organisations including the IRA and FARC.

“If, for whatever reason, the anticipated ICC prosecution fails, Britain should not hesitate to seek Gaddafi’s extradition and put him on trial for the murder of British citizens.

“The rebel advance underlines the sound judgment of Prime Minister David Cameron, who was among the first international leaders along with President Sarkozy of France to give political backing to the rebels and became a chief architect of the subsequent NATO military campaign.

“Hopefully this is the end of the fighting. Syed-al-Islam Gaddafi should order all his forces to surrender to the Libyan NTC immediately and if he does so this should be taken into consideration as mitigation before the ICC.

“If the fighting is indeed over, the EU should do everything in its power to stabilise and support the emergence of a new Libya that can finally emerge from the shadow of more than 40 years of dictatorship and corruption.”