After the collapse of the Libyan regime, it didn’t take long for the rebels to put a bounty on Qaddafi’s head. Assuming he gets captured — though he might try to sneak out of town in “woman’s clothing,” as his Baghdad Bob–esque minister of information warned, or jump on a one-way flight to Angola — it’s worth asking how his case should be handled. Should the new Libyan government try him for his crimes? Or should he be sent to the Hague, where the International Criminal Court (ICC) would handle the prosecution?
I lean toward allowing the new Libyan government to try him. It’s the Libyan people who’ve suffered under his regime for over 40 years, and it’s the Libyan people who bore the brunt of his vicious crackdown against protesters that would eventually lead to his demise. The process of trying Qaddafi and bringing his crimes to light would be an important first step in trying to build a credible government, establishing its legitimacy, and encouraging respect for the rule of law. By handing him over to the ICC, the Libyan government would be continuing to rely on international support — remember, there wouldn’t be a new Libyan regime had NATO not acted — which has the potential to create a damaging culture of dependency, as we’ve seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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