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French lawyers to sue Sarkozy over Libya abuses

Published time: September 19, 2011 05:28
Edited time: September 19, 2011 16:52

Anti-government protesters, one of them holding Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) adopted flag, shout slogans against the regime during a demonstration (AFP Photo / MOHAMMED HUWAIS)

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In Libya, new government forces are turning up the heat on Colonel Gaddafi's remaining supporters. Meanwhile, some Western leaders are facing charges at home over the legacy of their military intervention.

­The defiant loyalists are making a last stand in three key cities – Sirte, Bani Walid and Sabha – which have been under heavy assault for over a week, with reports Gaddafi and his sons could be hiding there.

The rest of Libya is reeling from months of civil war, which has left tens of thousands dead. There are reports that ongoing NATO airstrikes have landed wide of their mark, killing a number of civilians.

And some disturbing pictures of civilian casualties in Libya are moving French lawyers to turn against their government.

French ex-foreign minister Roland Dumas says he is ready to defend Muammar Gaddafi in the International Criminal Court, which has issued a warrant for his arrest.

But NATO will have to find the colonel first. Libya's deposed leader is in hiding, for good reason.

“If they find him they'll kill him. Like Bin Laden,” Dumas said. “Some states are now claiming the right to kill, against all international law.”

Nicolas Sarkozy faces lawsuits over ordinary people killed in the war in Libya. Lawyers in France now accuse the president of committing crimes against humanity.

Jacques Verges calls the Libyan war a new Vietnam, where the US sprayed tens of millions of liters of toxins on crops in the 60s and 70s, causing brain disorders, miscarriages and birth defects to this day.

“They are using missiles with depleted uranium, which cause cancer,” he claimed. “In Tripoli I saw people crippled by NATO attacks – office workers who have nothing to do with the fighting. That is why we are suing President Sarkozy for crimes against humanity.”

NATO first denied bombing the residence where 13 civilians, including four children, died. It then called the place a military command center. Journalist Michel Colon went to see what it really housed.

“Books, videos, Spiderman toys, cultural books, nothing military,” were what he saw there.

In another attack, Khaled El Awidi's wife, child and grandchildren were reportedly killed in their home. NATO is accused of deliberately waging a campaign of terror.

“Their bombings targeted the electricity, water and food supply,” Awidi's lawyer, Marcel Ceccaldi said. “After five months of daily NATO bombs and thousands of deaths, people will stop supporting the regime, because they just can't take it anymore.”

Western leaders are poised for their first serious legal challenge over Libya. If they stop the cases coming to court altogether, adds Ceccaldi, it will prove once and for all that Western justice really is run by the politicians, not the rule of law.

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