20 Oct 2011

Joy and frustration for British Libyans at Gaddafi’s death

As celebrations erupt across Libya at Gaddafi’s death, Libyans in Britain tell Channel 4 News of their mixed emotions that the former dictator will not face a trial.

“After 42 years of bloodshed and tyranny, after 17 years of not being able to see my family in Libya, and after eight months of the most heartbreaking news from my country, today I am shedding tears of relief,” Manchester accountant Rauf Drrah told Channel 4 News.

But despite his tearful relief that Gaddafi is finally gone, he says this is a day of remembrance for the victims of ‘the Brother Leader’s’ regime.

“I wasn’t able to see my own aunty before she passed away, and there are people with far more horrific tales to tell than mine. So I’m not happy or excited – we’ve tasted that for the last few months – today I am feeling relief.

“But I am gutted that he’s not going to be tried for his crimes, I’d rather he was alive. But in terms of justice? Only Allah will grant justice in the end.”

In pictures: The rise and fall of Colonel Gaddafi

‘Justice has been done’

Dr Ahmed Sewehli, a British-Libyan psychiatrist living in Manchester, is more sanguine about Gaddafi’s death.

Members of his family, including some of his siblings and his father, were kidnapped by Gaddafi thugs in Tripoli. Today he told Channel 4 News that justice had been done.

“Whether he should have tried is not necessarily the main thing. The main thing is that Gaddafi is gone, he’s been put out of action, and that is great news for Libya and for the whole region.”

But British-Libyan pharmacy student Nusiba Ben Ali, a youth activist from Manchester, told Channel 4 News that community opinion is split on whether Gaddafi should have been put on trial.

“A lot of people would have said he should be tried fairly, but then again we’ve been here for 8 months now, and many people couldn’t care less if he is dead or alive.

“But I’m so ecstatic, I can’t describe it to you, I just spoke to my family in Benghazi, every one is excited, although it is tinged with sadness for the martyrs that have passed away.”

Read more: Gaddafi - from pariah to ally and back again
A child celebrating in Libya (Reuters)

Lawyer’s for Justice in Libya

The director of Lawyer’s for Justice in Libya, Elham Saudi, also has mixed feelings. She told Channel 4 News that although it wasn’t clear if justice had been achieved in Libya it is certainly a historic day for the country.

“It is the eternal clichéd question of peace versus justice. As a Libyan lawyer I’m very much concerned that you need justice in order to see peace.

The Libyan people are not a blood thirsty people; they have just been put into this situation by a very blood thirsty tyrant, Elham Saudi

“I would have preferred to see him court, I would have liked to see the witnesses given their chance to stand before Gaddafi, but I do think this is a good day to have our lives back as Libyans,” she said.

Ms Saudi added that the details of how Gaddafi was killed are not yet clear, but he was a legitimate combatant in a conflict, and that she has confidence in the NTC’s commitment to international humanitarian law.

“I was in Libya ten days ago and nobody wants to fight any more, they want to get back to normal life. The Libyan people are not a blood thirsty people; they have just been put into this situation by a very blood thirsty tyrant. Now I hope we can stay united and move on.”

Read more: The teenage Libyan rebel from Manchester