Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Probing Abu Salim

Sayf al-Islam Qadhafi is investigating a 12-year-old massacre of Islamist prisoners in Libya:
"Saif al-Islam Qadhafi, the son of Libyan ruler Muammar Qadhafi, has promised those responsible for the 1996 massacre of as many as 1,200 Islamist prisoners will be brought to trial (Reuters, July 24; Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting Corporation, July 26). Apparently part of ongoing reform efforts in Libya, the announcement still came as a surprise, with few believing the taboo subject would ever be reopened so long as the Qadhafi regime was in power. The Libyan president acknowledged in 2004 that some killings had taken place in the notorious prison but his son now says that “genuine” preliminary investigations have been completed and the case will now proceed to the state prosecutor’s office before going to trial. According to Saif al-Islam: 'Disproportionate force was used in the case of Abu Salim. Mistakes have been made in handling the case… The trial will follow a fair process and those found guilty will be punished. The trial will be open to the public.'

"The announcement, which was broadcast live on state television, came before an assembly of prosecutors, government officials and leading members of Libya’s internal and external security agencies."

The immediate question here is what is happening behind the scenes in the Libyan regime? Will this be used to eliminate internal forces opposed to Sayf's eventual succession to Libya's paramount leadership? Is this designed in part of co-opt some Islamist elements to support the government during a potential transition period?



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