The latest video of the capture of Moammar Gadhafi appears to show him being tortured by rebel fighters shortly before his death. One Libyan rebel appears to have sodomized Gadhafi with a stick or knife, Global Post reports. Human rights activists say it looks like the rebels who finally caught up with Gadhafi may have violated the rules of war. Libya's interim government, bowing to international pressure, promised to investigate whether the deposed Libyan dictator died from battle wounds or was summarily executed. How important is it to hold someone accountable for the way Gadhafi died?
If this was a war crime, we must treat it like one: If Libya is to become "a more just and democratic society," it has to openly investigate Gadhafi's death, says Susan Brooks Thistlewaite in The Washington Post. Gadhafi was a brutal tyrant, but the moment he was captured, he was protected under the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit the torture and murder of battlefield prisoners. If Gadhafi was taken alive, then tortured and executed, those responsible should be treated as war criminals.
"Why does it matter how Gadhafi died?"
The rebels can prove they're better than Gadhafi: Libya's leaders have an opportunity to show the world "the accountability democracy brings," says The Economist. Maybe Gadhafi was treated the same awful way that he treated countless civilians — but if the new government tolerates an "independent and credible inquiry," Libya will have taken a huge step forward.
"When to celebrate a death"
Remember, the U.S. didn't treat bin Laden much better: It's easy for Americans, so far removed from the situation in the Middle East, "to criticize the 'primitive' way that Libyans acted," says the Arizona State University State Press in an editorial. "Gadhafi was ruthless, and as a result, the Libyan people showed no mercy." But the same can be said for the U.S. mission to "take out" Osama bin Laden, and the celebrations that followed. "Maybe Americans and Libyans aren't that different."