published Friday, November 25th, 2011

When tyrants go on trial

With the death of longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in a popular uprising in that country, attention has turned to one of his sons, Seif al-Islam, who was captured recently near Libya's border with another African nation, Niger.

Seif is accused of crimes against humanity in connection with his father's brutal -- and ultimately unsuccessful -- attempt to suppress the rebellion in Libya. It is believed Seif played a role in the deaths of civilians.

It is understandable, therefore, that many people around the world would like to see justice done where Seif is concerned.

But his trial should be conducted in Libya, by a Libyan court -- not in some faraway world judicial body. The so-called International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Seif's arrest and declared that "The Libyan authorities have an obligation to cooperate with the court."

But in fact, the newly liberated Libyan people have no such obligation. Handing over Gadhafi's son to the ICC would guarantee that he would never be executed for his crimes, which are believed to be of an especially horrible nature. In fact, he might eventually even be set free if his case were handled by the ICC, meaning he could cause new trouble back in his homeland.

Now, the ICC has appropriately backed off and said Libya can try Seif itself.

Certainly the nations of the world should urge Libya to conduct a fair and open trial of Gadhafi's son and to treat him humanely.

But distant, unaccountable world judicial bodies are simply not equipped to dispense appropriate justice in such cases.

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