October 25, 2011 10:33 Age: 2 yrs

Gaddafi's desecration following death equals war crime, Blank says

For now it’s uncertain whether Libya’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, was killed during capture or executed afterward.

However, footage showing the late leader stripped to the waist and dragged through the streets of Sirte demonstrates violation of the laws of war, said Laurie Blank, director of Emory’s Law’s International Humanitarian Law Clinic.

The fighters who desecrated his body and dragged it around—in celebration of the end of his 42-year reign of terror—are guilty of war crimes,” Blank wrote in an opinion article published Oct. 22 in Jurist.

“These violations have their modern antecedents—the murder of prisoners of war by both sides in World War II and the scenes of American servicemen being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in 1993,” Blank continued. “Few, if any, debate the wrongfulness of these acts—notwithstanding the nearly universal condemnation of Gaddafi's abusive and repressive tactics—and the Geneva Conventions prohibit both denial of quarter and despoiling the dead.”

From the Code of Hammurabi to the literary examples of Homer’s The Iliad and Shakespeare’s Henry V, societies around the world have regulated combat for thousands of years, Blank said.

“We can look to two of the greatest storytellers in history to find the ancient foundations of the protections trampled upon in Sirte,” Blank wrote.

Related links:

Read the op-ed in Jurist

Blank’s faculty profile



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