Libya’s Militias take Justice into their Own Hands

By Mustafa Fetouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Libya Business News.

"Abdallah," who did not want his real name used for fear of retribution, is a criminal prosecutor at Tripoli’s courthouse. When asked about the justice system in Libya, he said, “It’s working, but not properly. However, it’s not collapsing.” He added, “The very fact that I cannot use my real name is indicative of the difficulties we face.”

Abdallah has worked as a prosecutor for the last 12 years. He has investigated all sorts of crimes under the regime of Moammar Gadhafi and in the aftermath of the revolution. In his Tripoli office, he told Al-Monitor, “Under the former regime, neither me nor any other colleagues were forced by the former regime to do anything against the law.”

Before 2011, Abdallah investigated many high-ranking officials including security personnel. He said none of them “disrespected us or our work. They were very respectful of what we did and answered all our questions.” Today, however, the lack of a strong central government and the near collapse of the state mean little respect for the law, and even less for law enforcement institutions.

When asked about the claims made by various media outlets after the regime was toppled in October 2011 and after Gadhafi himself was murdered that Libya’s justice system is not independent and that former regime officials, including Gadhafi himself, used to call prosecutors and tell them what to do, Abdallah denied them all, saying, “The former regime might have intervened on behalf of someone, but they did it within the system, not over it.”

He explained, “They would, for example, intervene on behalf of someone at the police station before the case reached the courthouse, but once it was there no one ever called us.”

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