A military court in Libya has sentenced 24 men accused of being mercenaries working for the Gaddafi regime to lengthy jail terms. The sentences are in stark contrast to the immunity granted to those who committed crimes whilst protecting the revolution.
Much was heard during the Libya uprising of how Colonel Gaddafi was hiring black mercenaries to fight against the rebels. Yet the 24 men sentenced to prison after being convicted of serving as mercenaries were all from Eastern Europe.
Alarabiya reported the convicted men comprise 19 Ukranians, two Russians and three Belarusians. The men were each sentenced to 10 years’ hard labor, with the exception of one Russian who received life imprisonment.
All 24 men denied the charges and stated they were employed in Libya's oil sector. The Ukrainian foreign ministry has stated it believes its nationals are innocent and will fight for their release. Both the ambassadors to Belarus and Ukraine were in court and said the men would appeal.
As Libyan authorities meted out their justice there is no justice for victims of rebel atrocities during the civil war. Libya recently passed the controversial new Law 38 which Human Rights Watch reports stipulates there will be no penalty to “military, security, or civil actions dictated by the February 17 Revolution that were performed by revolutionaries with the goal of promoting or protecting the revolution.”
The Libyan Justice Organization strongly condemns Law 38, saying it enshrines "the culture of impunity. Impunity for violations of human rights and war crimes resulting from a sense of revolutionary legitimacy is dangerous and perpetuates the culture that existed under the Gaddaﬁ regime."
Law 38 complements Law 37, otherwise known as the "glorification" law. Digital Journal reported that under Law 37 anyone who praises the Gaddafi regime can be imprisoned for life, as can anyone who insults Islam. Law 37 also makes it also makes it a criminal offence to “harm the 17 February revolution."
It is becoming clear that justice in post-Gaddafi era Libya is only granted to those on the winning side.