The move by the Qaddafi family to seek a death certificate for him is being characterised as an attempt to embarrass . . .[restrict]the Libyan government and to compromise the eventual trial of Saif al-Islam Qaddafi.
It is certainly both these things. The captured dictator was killed summarily on October 20, when he was found hiding in a Sirte storm drain after his escape convey was blasted by French warplanes. Publishing his autopsy, as the family is also demanding, would reveal the manner of his death, which pictures of the event show was hardly pleasant.
Then there is the son Saif. The International War Crimes Court in The Hague has still not endorsed NTC plans to try him in Libya. The court continues to indicate that it may have reservations over the likely fairness of the trial.
Therefore by having her lawyers ask The Hague court for a second time to issue a death certificate for her father, Qaddafi’s daughter Aisha is trying to undermine the NTC’s credibility. The first time she asked The Hague for the certificate, she was told she should approach the Libyan authorities. Now her lawyers are back at the court, arguing that there has has been no response from Tripoli and that the court is thus competent to act and issue the death certificate itself
Yet this campaign to undermine the revolution should not obscure another, arguably more important reason for obtaining this piece of paper — unknown sums of Libyan money squirrelled away abroad by the dictator. The institutions holding these funds in the name of Muammar Qaddafi or entities of which he was the sole beneficiary will almost certainly be arguing that they cannot release them to anyone else, until there is legal proof that the man is dead and moreover that those requesting the funds are entitled to receive them.
It is very likely that Qaddafi made a wasiyya, a will with named beneficiaries. Whether he knew the full extent of the assets that he had stolen from the country is neither here nor there. He would have stipulated who would receive his wealth.
Now, given the understandable hostility that Qaddafi’s interfering foreign affairs stirred up in much of the rest of the Arab world, it is unlikely if much of the billions he stole, were placed in accounts and investment vehicles in other Arab states.
Therefore the Qaddafi hoard is almost certainly largely in Europe, Turkey and Russia. Without a proven will and without a formal death certificate, no beneficiary is going to be able to touch these assets any time soon even though the world knows he is dead.
It should not be doubted that those members of the Qaddafi family still at large have their own golden nest eggs to survive on from day to day. However, they want the really big money for other reasons. Despite all the nonsense of his Green Book, Qaddafi’s regime was built and survived on fear and venality. Without any genuine ideology, the only thing that will motivate any counter-revolutionary effort is money.
It can be certain that in the chaotic closing days of the old regime, there was a great shredding of records and erasing of digital files to conceal at least part of the data trail that would have helped the NTC start tracking down stolen fortunes.
Every cent of this money is a potential mine field that could endanger the revolution. The Americans appreciate this very well. The sheer uncertainty in terms of both quantity and location of these funds is what lies behind the Obama administration’s decision today to extend the US’s national emergency status for Libya. Only with the executive powers this gives the administration can Washington actively help the NTC to find Qaddafi’s hidden billions. [/restrict]