Gaddafi death poses ‘number of questions’ – Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday said the convoy carrying Moamer Gaddafi posed no danger when attacked by NATO jets and questioned other circumstances of the Libyan strongman’s death.
Speaking in a live radio interview, Lavrov added that Western leaders were premature in celebrating the veteran dictator’s death.
“The way his death happened poses an entire number of questions,” said Lavrov. “NATO’s actions are also of interest to us from the perspective of international law.”
Lavrov said he heard French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet say that the NATO jet that fired the missile that took out Gaddafi’s vehicle “intended to stop and not destroy” the convoy.
He then accused the Brussels-based military bloc of exceeding UN mandates that permitted its forces to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya and protect civilians.
“There is no link between a no-fly zone and ground targets, including this convoy,” Lavrov said. “Even more so since civilian life was not in danger because it (the convoy) was not attacking anyone.”
Lavrov also hinted strongly that Russia believed Gaddafi was killed by the National Transitional Council forces and had not died from his wounds as some NTC representatives claimed.
“We are forced to rely on facts and international law. International law says that during armed conflicts … international humanitarian rules are in effect,” Lavrov said. “The (Geneva) conventions clearly state that as soon as a participant in an armed conflict is taken prisoner, he is subject to special procedures,” he said. “The images we saw on television show that he was taken prisoner while wounded, and then later, once already a prisoner, his life was taken away.”
Lavrov called for an international probe into the killing and added that Russia was “certain that such an investigation will be conducted.”
Russia had firmly opposed the launch of the Libya offensive and Lavrov sought to point out on Friday that Moscow was only following international agreements and not trying to provoke a confrontation with the West. “We are not trying to act like a bull in a china shop” in the North Africa region, Lavrov said. NATO said Friday it was unaware Gaddafi was travelling in the convoy, adding that its airstrike “was conducted solely to reduce the threat towards the civilian population, as required to do under our UN mandate.
As a matter of policy, NATO does not target individuals.”