Col. Gaddafi is dead and details of his murky deals with Western leaders have been buried with him. But Gaddafi’s son is safe and reportedly ready to surrender to the International Criminal Court, where he may spill secrets of his father’s regime.
The court’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said on Friday he is in contact with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi through intermediaries. He has reportedly crossed the border from the Libyan desert into Niger. If he does eventually stand a trial, he could spill some of the secrets of the regime's hidden dealings with the same governments that helped topple his father.
From the perspective of Blair, Sarkozy and many others, Muammar Gaddafi was a man who knew too much. Expediency dictated that he be buried along with his secrets.
“I think there were tremendous sighs of relief all over capitals in Western Europe. This is somebody who cut all sorts of deals, particularly with the French, but also the British, the Italians and the Americans as well,” Conn Hallinan, a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus, told RT.
“I think they did not want him put on trial for any reason, and I am not in the slightest bit surprised that he was captured alive and that he very quickly ended up dead,” said Hallinan.
Gaddafi’s return from diplomatic exile was marked by hugs, handshakes and kisses from leaders of countries who had previously denounced him as evil. Now he is silenced. But the suspicion swirling around those who once laid out the welcome mat is far from buried.
“Gaddafi has gone to the grave taking those secrets with him. But the shadow that dealing with him has cast over Tony Blair’s reputation and Nicolas Sarkozy’s won’t go away,” says Mark Almond, visiting professor of International Relations at Bilkent University in Ankara.
“And precisely because of this uncertain situation, the suspicion will probably grow rather than shrink. So it may actually ironically lead to a situation where they can’t, in fact, prove their innocence,” he suggests.
Britain’s then prime minister, Tony Blair, was instrumental in Gaddafi’s rehabilitation, bringing him in from the cold in 2007. But Blair did not leave Libya empty-handed. Trade between the two countries flourished; so did the cozy relationship. There were six more secret meetings after Blair left office. His people denied they were about releasing the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al Megrahi, in exchange for lucrative Libyan deals.
“I regret, myself, enormously that Gaddafi was butchered,” says British Labor Party MP Denis Macshane.
“He should have been sent to the International Criminal Court, put on trial, and forced to answer questions about all the terrible things he did. And if it damaged contemporary world leaders, or previous regimes and leaders – tough. We need to know what is done in our name with bad people,” Macshane believes.
Meanwhile, some details of the murky dealings have already come to the surface, sullying the reputation of one of Britain's leading universities.
The London School of Economics agreed a deal with the Gaddafi regime to educate hundreds of its future civil servants in return for more than $3 million. Its director was forced to resign, and now Tripoli University is demanding the money back.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy, in his turn, was never shy of greeting Gaddafi – even letting him pitch his tent in the Elysee Palace as an apparent reward for bankrolling Sarkozy’s path to the presidency.
But Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, may now become a new nightmare for the West’s current and former leaders.
“Sarkozy must give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We funded it and we have all the details and are ready to reveal everything,” Saif stated in an interview with Euronews TV channel.
“Saif’s going to have a lot of information on that. I think Tony Blair intervened to help Saif get his dodgy PhD degree from the London School of Economics when a lot of that degree was apparently plagiarized. So there’s a lot of things that have gone on that Saif al-Gaddafi knows about,” Stephen Brown, an independent journalist, told RT.
Saif Gaddafi intends to answer for his own actions in Libya’s drawn-out battle for control. But it is what he could reveal about the diplomatic deals hammered out by his father that is bringing Western power-players out in a cold sweat.