The Fate of Said Gaddafi

The Libyan may deserve prison for his recent acts, but previously his heart was on the side of reform

Fair trials rarely emerge from the fog of war. The victors not only tell the tale but render judgment on it. That is why I would prefer a truth and reconciliation commission to Libyan trials of Saif Gaddafi; or for Lord Woolf, whose report on Gaddafi's relationship with the London School of Economics was released last week, to preside over a trial.
 
Although Gaddafi has so far avoided the terminal vengeance visited on his father, a trial by Zintan militiamen or Transitional National Council members who are themselves in permanent transition is hardly likely to be very clarifying, let alone fair. The international criminal court is probably the best bet for justice (though one worries about Nato's influence), but also the least likely venue.
 
For Libya to make the difficult move from revolution (killing tyrants) to democracy (establishing free institutions and creating free Libyan citizens), Gaddafi must be tried. The story of his own role in the runup to the insurgency – including his time at the LSE, his international foundation work, and his putative leadership in helping forge a reform coalition that included key TNC members like Mahmoud Gebril and Abdul Jalil – needs to be heard. For that story is a counterpoint to his subsequent betrayal of all he said he believed in. Since the TNC wishes not only to investigate Gaddafi's role during the insurgency, but to examine issues of corruption, abuse of state funds, torture and murder under the supposed regime, it should welcome a more encompassing inquiry.