It is too much to expect that if Gaddafi is captured alive he could receive justice at the hands of those whom he has repressed for so long. He controlled the judicial system, which must now be reconstructed from scratch, with judges independent of the new government. That government, the National Transitional Council, is a gimcrack organization, plainly unable to organize a fair or proper trial for him. The recent arrest and murder of one of its leaders, General Younis—probably in revenge for his own excesses when he was killing for Gaddafi—demonstrates the danger that Libya’s new democracy will start with the rule of lynch law.
There is a more important reason of principle why the fate of the Gaddafis must not be left to the Libyans. The Colonel is charged with crimes against humanity—the mass murder of civilians by perpetrating offenses so barbaric that the very fact that a fellow human being can commit them demeans us all. Ordering the massacre of 1,200 captives in a prison compound, blowing 270 people out of the sky over Lockerbie and almost as many in a UTA passenger jet over Chad a few months later, are merely the most egregious examples of international crimes committed by the worst man left in the world. It is essential, therefore, that he face justice in The Hague and not in Benghazi.