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Tuesday 16 September 2014

Clooney's fiancee has role defending Gaddafi henchman

Miranda Prynne in London

Published 05/05/2014 | 02:30

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Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney's fiancee, is to represent one of Muammar Gaddafi's most notorious henchmen. Photo: PA
Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney's fiancee, is to represent one of Muammar Gaddafi's most notorious henchmen. Photo: PA

The fiancee of actor George Clooney could soon find herself in the public eye for reasons other than being engaged to one of the world's most famous film stars.

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Amal Alamuddin is to represent one of Col Muammar Gaddafi's most notorious henchmen who is fighting for a fair trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), in a case that threatens to dent the authority of the court.

The human rights barrister will argue that Abdullah al-Senussi, the former dictator's intelligence chief who oversaw torture, assassinations and town square hangings, cannot receive a fair trial in his native country and must be sent to The Hague.

Senussi was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC, along with Gaddafi's second son, Saif al-Islam, in 2011. As one of Gaddafi's closest aides, the 64-year-old has been implicated in a Libyan massacre in 1996, in which more than 1,000 inmates were killed at the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli.

Ms Alamuddin said: "At this stage the ICC case is not about whether Mr Gaddafi and Mr Senussi are guilty of committing crimes against humanity; it is about where their trial should be held. In Libya, where they will face a show trial and then be executed; or before an international court in The Hague? No one is arguing that there should be no trial. But we are arguing that there should be justice."

In 1999, Senussi was tried in absentia in France and sentenced to life in jail for the shooting down of a UTA airliner over Niger a decade earlier.

United Nations rules stated that the ICC had to stage the trial unless Libya could prove it was "willing and able genuinely" to carry out a fair hearing.

Last October, The Hague ruled that Senussi could be tried in Libya, despite claims he had been mistreated after being extradited from Mauritania, where he had fled after Gaddafi's downfall.

It overlooked the refusal by Libyan authorities to let Ms Alamuddin visit Senussi in prison to discuss his case.

Ms Alamuddin was hired for the case by barrister Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, who she worked as counsel for when he was investigating the use of drones.

The pair also worked together to defend Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks in extradition proceedings after an application from Sweden.

Mr Emmerson criticised the ICC ruling and said the Libyan justice system was "incapable of conducting fair trials of any Gaddafi-era officials". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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