Saif demands lawyer as he faces death penalty
Published 22/11/2011 | 05:00
LIBYAN officials have made it clear they will seek the death penalty for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, as the former Libyan dictator's son demanded a lawyer yesterday.
Osama Jueili, the head of the military council in Zintan, the town where the son of the late Muammar Gaddafi is being held, said the issue of where he would be imprisoned might not arise if the punishment handed down by a court "was worse than jail". Asked whether he hoped to see him executed, he said: "Whatever the law allows."
Mr Jueili has promised his prisoner is being well treated. He said he would grant the request for a lawyer, and he also took him to see a Ukrainian doctor for treatment to his injured hand.
Saif Gaddafi was also filmed by a crew from the local council's media office, as authorities reacted to claims circulating that his injuries were inflicted deliberately by his captors.
In a notorious television broadcast at the start of the uprising, Saif Gaddafi wagged his fingers at the camera while calling the rebels "rats". In response, rebel militias threatened to "cut off his fingers".
When filmed on board the plane taking him to Zintan, he was wearing bandages over the part-missing thumb and forefinger of his right hand.
In the video, he said the injuries had been caused by a NATO air strike a month before.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, is due in Tripoli to discuss whether Libya's justice system, after 42 years of capricious Gaddafi rule, has the technical competence to conduct what is expected to be a complex and contested trial.
The ICC said it would not demand Saif Gaddafi's extradition to The Hague if it agreed Libya could conduct a fair trial itself.
Mr Jueili relented on the Zintan council's tough line on Sunday, when it insisted Saif Gaddafi should stay in the town and be put on trial there. He said that he would follow government orders if it demanded he be handed over.
But he and the head of the civilian council, Taher al-Tourki, both said it was safer to keep him in Zintan. They said they were less worried that pro-Gaddafi remnants in Tripoli might try to release him than they were about the difficulty of keeping him safe in a city where a number of rival militias are competing and sometimes fighting for influence.
The doctor who treated Saif Gaddafi on Sunday said the injuries were in a poor state and needed surgery to make a clean amputation.
He said Saif Gaddafi seemed "a little scared" but otherwise in good health.
Saif Gaddafi was interviewed by the Zintan media council. A video showed him dressed in traditional robes and appearing calm and in good health.
"We have a lot to talk about regarding my medical condition," he said -- a hint, perhaps, of the deal he is likely to be attempting to reach with his captors.
As a favoured son of the former leader, it is Saif Gaddafi that holds the key to where Libya's missing oil billions are. "We are sitting here with our families, with our brothers and there is no problem," he said.
The status of Abdullah al-Senussi, the intelligence chief who was also captured over the weekend, was not much clearer. A government spokesman said that he was being held at a secret location in the desert because of threats to his life. (© Daily Telegraph, London)