Following international intervention and several months of stalemate, opposition forces seized control of Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and took two of Gaddafi’s sons into custody on August 22, 2011. Opposition forces continued to clash with the remaining loyalist forces until October 2011, sparking fierce combat over the last strongholds of pro-Gaddafi forces at Sirte, Sabha and Bani Walid. The fighting also brought allegations from Amnesty International (AI) that war crimes had been committed on both sides of the conflict. Sabha fell to NTC troops in September and Bani Walid fell on October 17, 2011. During this time, the NTC continued to seek legitimacy in the international community, gaining recognition from the World Bank and beginning to create a full, interim government in September 2011.
The NTC has also attempted to distance itself from the abuses committed during Gaddfi’s regime. To that end, the transitional government has announced plans to abolish Libya’s state security system and has issued an arrest warrant for former prime minister Al Baghdad Ali Al-Mahmoudi following his arrest in Tunisia. However, AI levied allegations of prisoner abuses against the NTC in October. JURIST Guest Columnist Edsel Tupaz has argued for the necessity of implementing a stable, democratic government in Libya and seeking even-handed justice in the aftermath of the opposition uprising:
Whatever the result of this crowning of thorns by nation-states, there will be no avoidance of the fact that Libya must move fast from the rule of the tribe to the rule of law. Like Iraq post-Saddam and Egypt post-Mubarak, there will be a surge of sectarian violence and criminal activity in the streets as Libya struggles in post-conflict transition. How may Libya contain this explosion of social unrest as it seeks to impose order from within and from without? What are the various post-conflict and transitional justice strategies which Libya’s regime-in-waiting ought to deploy? As intimated, Libya has had no strong liberal democratic foundation; much of its governmental life has been driven by the rule of a singular personality. Its new leaders must proceed with that uncertainty in mind. The fact that Libya has had no good buttress in democracy is no reason to give up aiming for a working constitutional democracy, even if far from perfect, and certainly it is no reason for hesitating to use any and all forms of post-conflict strategies at its disposal to help its transition from war to peace. This includes what might be an interim government seated at Tripoli in the very near future.
Gaddafi was captured and killed on October 20, 2011, following the fall of his birthplace, Sirte. As he fled the captured city, Gaddafi’s convoy was bombarded by NATO airstrikes that forced his eventual capture by opposition fighters. The nature of his death at the hands of NTC forces is unclear and has created immediate controversy — some evidence suggests that Gaddafi may have been summarily executed. The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) has called for a full investigation into the incident.
Transitional Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril declared the country’s official liberation from Gaddafi’s regime on October 23, 2011, and set a schedule for the formation of a new, permanent government. In August 2012, the Libya General National Congress elected Mohamed al-Megaryef as interim president. In January 2013, Libyan Justice Minister Salah Maraghni announced that war crimes trials would be held for Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.