Libyan rebel chief warns against retribution

The head of Libya’s rebel national council urged his fighters on Monday to respect the law and not take violent revenge on members of Muammar Gaddafi’s fallen regime, adding that indiscipline among rebels could even lead him to resign.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chair of the National Transitional Council, promised fair trials for Muammar Gaddafi and members of his government and called for tolerance, forgiveness and the protection of civilians and of public and private property.

“I call upon our revolutionaries ... not to take the law into their own hands and to let justice take its course,” Jalil told a news conference in the rebels’ bastion of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

He said the era of Gaddafi was over, although final victory would only come when the man who ruled Libya harshly for 42 years was captured.

“We are at the start of a new period in which we will seek to build a state on the same principles that we have committed to—and they are freedom, democracy, equality and transparency within a moderate Islamic framework,” said Jalil, once a minister of justice under Gaddafi.

He warned there would be problems ahead. “Libyans must know that the coming period will not be a bed of roses.
We face many challenges and responsibilities,” he said.

Different factions and militias are loosely united in the rebel camp. In what could be an ominous sign of things to come, the rebel military chief was assassinated in July in circumstances that have yet to be explained, but which raised fears of internecine violence.

Warning against revenge attacks
Some groups within the rebel movement have refused to bow to a central military chain of command, Jalil said. “These might be the reason or the cause of my resignation,” he added.

“My fear is some actions which are outside the framework of the orders that we get from the leaders, especially those concerning revenge,” he said. “I object strongly to any executions outside the framework of the law.”

Jalil said the whole of Tripoli was not yet under rebel control and he did not know where Gaddafi was hiding. Two of Gaddafi’s sons had been captured, he said.

“We hope that he [Muammar Gaddafi] is captured alive so he’ll be given a fair trial,” he said.

“Gaddafi will be given a fair trial but I don’t know how he will defend himself against his crimes.”

Jalil declined to say when he and other rebel leaders would move to Tripoli.

He also said the national council would favour foreign countries that had supported the rebellion.

“We assure the international community that we are seeking to build solid ties based on mutual respect,” he said, adding that some countries would benefit from “special privileges” in relations with the oil-rich north African country.—Reuters

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