Martyrdom for Muammar Gaddafi?

Russia's Human Rights Commissioner has said that the killing of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi could have the effect of turning him into a national martyr.

Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin expressed regret over the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, while acknowledging the Libyan strongman was responsible for many crimes.

"Murder is a horrible and despicable thing, and people who effectively watched Gaddafi's murder live on television may have had precisely these feelings," Lukin told Interfax on Friday. "Although Gaddafi himself is responsible for so much bloodshed."

The commissioner said Gaddafi chose the painful path of civil war when anti-government forces demanded he step down.

"A civil war is the cruelest; it does not take into account any laws of an international war," Lukin noted. "And here one cannot fail to note that Gaddafi himself embarked on the path of the civil war. Initially he was offered the chance to go, but he chose this path - the path of a civil war."

Gaddafi's failings as a leader and individual notwithstanding, Lukin expressed regret that the deposed Libyan strongman will not have an opportunity to be judged before an international court of law.

"But still it would have been good if he had been captured and tried by an international court," the Russian official said. "And now he has been brutally killed, and often over time such things give rise to a legend, which can create the halo of a martyr instead of an insane dictator."

Already, international human rights groups are demanding an investigation into Gaddafi's murder.

UK-based human rights group Amnesty International called for "a full, independent and impartial inquiry" into the circumstances of Gaddafi's killing.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who was a friend of the colonel, called the circumstances of his death disgraceful.

"They murdered him," Chavez told reporters.

Before Gaddafi's death was officially confirmed, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that "Gaddafi's fate should be decided by the people of Libya."

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who seized power in a bloodless military coup on September 1, 1969, died following a fierce gun battle with anti-government forces of the so-called National Liberation Army in the Libyan town of Sirte, where Gaddafi was born in 1942.

Gaddafi's 42-year rule prior to the uprising made him the longest-ruling Arab leader.

The exact circumstances of his death, which some analysts say appears to be the cold-blooded murder of a prisoner of war, will now be the focus of an international investigation.

[Source: RT Novosti, Moscow, 21Oct11]

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