Wednesday 18 January 2017

Row erupts over where to try captured Gaddafi son

ICC wants to see trial in Hague -- not Libya

Bruno Waterfield in Tripoli

Published 21/11/2011 | 05:00

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi, sits on a plane in Zintan, Libya on Saturday, following his capture
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi, sits on a plane in Zintan, Libya on Saturday, following his capture

THE capture of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi face down in the desert over the weekend opens up a legal minefield.

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The lack of a functioning justice system in post-dictatorship Libya and the absence of any clear international jurisdiction mean confusion surrounds the fate of the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's son.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court's prosecutor, will travel to Tripoli today to discuss trial arrangements. Both the ICC and Libya's interim government are determined justice should be done.

But where that justice is done, in Libya or The Hague, may yet be a source of conflict between a new Libyan government and the international community that helped to overthrow the Gaddafi regime.

Libya is not a signatory to the ICC, the war crimes court set up under the 1998 Rome Statute, and its prosecutors do not have the right to enter Libya to arrest Saif Gaddafi.

Libyan leaders have promised the 39-year-old will get a fair trial, but have made it clear they want him in the dock in Libya, where he faces the death penalty. ICC officials insist that, under UN resolutions that gave the go-ahead for military action against Gaddafi, Libya is obliged to cooperate.

Britain indicated it is sympathetic to a Libyan trial held with ICC assistance. "We should let them work out where the best place for a trial would be, with international monitoring," said Alistair Burt, the foreign office minister.

Meanwhile, in a separate development yesterday, the capture of Colonel Gaddafi's intelligence chief and brother-in-law ended the hunt for one of the most feared men of one of the world's most repressive regimes.

Abdullah al-Senussi was labelled the "the executioner" by the ICC, but for the families of his victims, he will always be known as "the butcher".

Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor, wants Senussi for his role in attempting to crush violently the Benghazi popular protests in February this year.

Excesses

But Senussi's association with the worst excesses of the Libyan regime stretches back to the early days of Col Gaddafi's dictatorial rule. Most notorious for Libyans is the allegation that he gave the order in 1996 for the massacre of 1,200 political inmates in Abu Salim prison.

After riots broke out over prisoners' demands for better food and sanitation, Libyans believe Senussi ordered guards to fire, murdering those inside.

But yesterday, members of Libya's National Transitional Council sealed his fate.

"He will be tried in local courts. We will not hand over a Libyan to be tried abroad, and issue which is ruled by sovereignty of the country," said NTC spokesman Abdul Hafiz Ghoga. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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