There can be no doubt that the proven elimination of the old symbols of torture and fear has an emancipating effect, at least in the short term. But I would say that this effect is subject to rapidly diminishing returns, which became evident in Iraq when Moqtada al-Sadr’s unpolished acolytes got the job of conducting the execution of Saddam Hussein.
There are sectarian scars still remaining from that botched and sordid episode, and I shall be very surprised if similar resentments were not created among many Libyans on Thursday. Too late to repair that now. But it will be a shame if the killing of the Qaddafis continues and an insult if the summons to the Hague continues to be ignored.
At the site where Muammar Gaddafi was captured, Human Rights Watch found the remains of at least 95 people who had apparently died that day. The vast majority had apparently died in the fighting and NATO strikes prior to Gaddafi’s capture, but between six and ten of the dead appear to have been executed at the site with gunshot wounds to the head and body.
Then we have the discovery of a mass grave of 53 alleged Qaddafi loyalists:
The bloodstains on the grass directly below the bodies, bullet holes visible in the ground, and the spent cartridges of AK-47 and FN-1 rifles scattered around the site strongly suggest that some, if not all of the people, were shot and killed in the location where they were discovered, Human Rights Watch said.
All the bodies were in a similar stage of decomposition, suggesting they were killed at the same approximate time. Some of the bodies had their hands tied behind their backs with plastic ties. Others had bandages over serious wounds, suggesting they had been treated for other injuries prior to their deaths.
David Bosco thinks Qaddafi's death was probably a war crime:
The question of whether Qaddafi's execution constitutes a war crime that falls under the ICC's jurisdiction. To be a war crime, there's got to be a war (or state of armed conflict). Here, there's no doubt that there was an armed conflict underway when Qaddafi was killed. Does killing a combatant who has surrendered constitute a crime? Quite clearly.
Of course. But, tragically, American moral standing on the treatment of POWs remains stained with the ink of Cheney.
(Cartoon "Qaddafi falling" by Yara Kassem)