Unintended Irony: Merkel Reveals Contradictions of Western Libya Policy

Posted by John Rosenthal

In an interview with the Sunday edition of the German tabloid Bild, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that deposed Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi should be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. “Gaddafi should have a trial according to the rule of law, such as he never offered to his opponents,” Merkel told Bild.

This might have been a powerful point – were it not for the fact that the head of the opposition’s National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, was himself a pillar of the Libyan judiciary under Gaddafi. Before defecting to the rebellion, Jalil was the Libyan Minister of Justice. Earlier, he was the chair of the appeals court in Tripoli. In the latter capacity, he twice upheld the death penalty for five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor in the notorious “Bulgarian nurses affair.”

The nurses and the doctor were accused of deliberately infecting hundreds of children with the AIDS virus in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. They were freed by the Libyan government in 2007, following negotiations with the European Union.

In 2008, the chief European negotiator, Marc Pierini, published a memoir of the negotiations titled Le Prix de la liberté [The Price of Freedom]. In his book, Pierini reveals that the member of the ancien régime who played the “key role” in facilitating the liberation of the nurses was none other than Muammar al-Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi.

In August 2007, Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi would publicly declare that the infection of the children in Benghazi was a “tragedy, but, nonetheless, it was not deliberate.” According to Pierini, as head of the so-called Gaddafi Foundation for Development, Saif al-Islam had commissioned medical opinions confirming that the origins of the infection pre-dated the arrival of the Bulgarian nurses in Benghazi.

Like his father Muammar, Saif al-Islam is the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court.

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