Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Few will mourn death of Colonel

There will be few tears shed at the death of Col Muammar Gaddafi, whose 40 years of tyranny as leader of Libya ended ingloriously yesterday when he was shot dead cowering in a sewer pipe.

Famously branded the Mad Dog of the Middle East by former US President Ronald Reagan, Gaddafi was directly and indirectly responsible for thousands of deaths, both of opponents of his regime and also of those killed by the terrorist groups he supported, most notably in our case, the Provisional IRA.

While it is known that he sent cargoes of arms and Semtex explosives to the IRA, which was largely responsible for prolonging the IRA's campaign, his death means that the full extent of his links with the terrorists will probably never be known, unless, of course, he has left some documentary evidence behind. The result of his arms and explosives shipments to Ireland was the deaths of hundreds of people and their relatives will be among those cheering at the tyrant's death.

DUP politician Jeffrey Donaldson, who has lobbied on behalf of those bereaved by Gaddafi sponsored terrorism in Northern Ireland, feels that his death could speed up the claims for compensation by those bereaved families. It may be the case that the new Libyan authorities will want to present a different face of that country to the west and may be well disposed towards those affected by Gaddafi's regime at home and abroad. However the bitter civil war in Libya this year has left the transitional government with few funds and a huge rebuilding programme.

There must be serious doubt that the new regime will be able to foot a multi-million pound compensation claim - however well founded - and will argue that it has more pressing domestic priorities. It will certainly take some time for the new transitional government to bed in and for the internal tensions in that administration to be resolved. Until that happens any thoughts of compensation will be far down the list of must-do actions.

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