News / Africa

Former Special Court Prosecutor Once Considered Indicting Gadhafi

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Joe DeCapua

The former chief prosecutor for the U.N.-backed Special Court in Sierra Leone says he once considered indicting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

David Crane, who’s now a law professor at Syracuse University, is the man who signed the war crimes indictment against former Liberian president Charles Taylor.  He says evidence showed Col. Gadhafi’s involvement in West African turmoil in the 1990s.

“Involvement of Moammar Gadhafi in the affairs of sub-Saharan Africa are well known,” he says, “Moammar Gadhafi was a center point in the West African joint criminal enterprise that was essentially the blood diamond story and had a direct involvement in the tragedy that was the civil war in Sierra Leone.

What investigators found

Crane says, “He had a geo-political plan to place surrogates in various countries in West Africa, starting with Burkina Faso, then Liberia, followed by Sierra Leone, then Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Gambia and Senegal.”

Crane began work as chief prosecutor in 2002.

“We realized very quickly that Moammar Gadhafi was involved in setting up and creating the conditions by which the Sierra Leonean civil war kicked off in March of 1991.”

He says unraveling the evidence found that “both Moammar Gadhafi, [and] Blaise Campaore, the current president of Burkina Faso, as well as then-president Charles Taylor, were very much involved in this joint criminal enterprise to move guns, diamonds, gold and timber about and using diamonds as a basis by which they were able to create cash to buy guns to further their rebellions in West Africa.”

Indicting Gadhafi?

“I considered indicting Moammar Gadhafi, but again, there were several challenges, one of which was political.  But also there was some evidentiary challenges,” he says, adding, “In paragraph 17 of Charles Taylor’s indictment, we name and shame Moammar Gadhafi as an unindicted coconspirator.”

Crane denies suggestions that some countries pressured him not to indict Gadhafi.

“That is just not true.  I received no political pressure regarding any of the cases that I ran.”

Would Crane like to see Gadhafi indicted, possibly by the International Criminal Court?

“I think a careful look should be given by the International Criminal Court as to what he is allegedly doing to his own people during this particular rebellion.  And if the facts show he’s committed international crimes that justice be done,” says Crane.

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