Gaddafi’s son to be tried in Libya, not at ICC

Libya will not hand over Muammar Gaddafi’s most prominent son Saif al-Islam to the International Criminal Court for trial, a minister said on Tuesday as the war crimes court’s prosecutor visited the country.

“In a nutshell, we are not going to hand him over,” interim justice minister Mohammed al-Allagui said when asked about Saif, who was captured in Libya’s far-flung Saharan south on Saturday after three months on the run.

Trying Saif “is the special responsibility of the Libyan courts. It is the prerogative of the Libyan courts. It is a question of our sovereignty over our territory and our citizens,” said al-Allagui.

His comments came as the ICC’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo was in Tripoli for talks on jurisdiction in the cases of Saif and Gaddafi’s spymaster Abdullah al-Senussi, both of whom are wanted by the court on charges of crimes against humanity.

Al-Allagui said the prosecutor was very welcome to have a meeting with Saif al-Islam in custody to allay concerns that he might be subjected to ill-treatment after his father was killed when he was captured last month.

“If he [Moreno-Ocampo] asked for one, he would be most welcome,” the minister said.

But when asked whether he expected to meet Saif during his current visit, the ICC prosecutor said: “No.”

Tried and treated with fairness
The Gaddafi son is being held in the mainly Berber hill town of Zintan, in the Nafusa mountains about 170km south-west of Tripoli.

It was fighters from the town who captured Saif on Saturday.

After talks in Libya’s second-largest city Benghazi on Tuesday, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said she had received assurances there would be no retaliatory mistreatment of Gaddafi’s longtime heir apparent.

“The officials with whom I met assured me that Saif al-Islam was being held safely in a secure location, that he was being well treated and humanely treated … and that he would be tried and treated in a fair fashion and held accountable according to international standards,” she said.

“So that was a clear-cut commitment that was made by the senior officials with whom I met,” the US ambassador added.

Asked whether Washington had put any pressure on Libya’s new authorities to hand Saif over for trial by the ICC in The Hague, Rice said: “We first of all think that these are issues for the Libyan people to determine.”

Legal standards
Ahead of his trip, Moreno-Ocampo had said: “The issue of where the trials will be held has to be resolved through consultations with the court … In the end, the ICC judges will decide, there are legal standards which will have to be adhered to,” he added.

Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council insists that Saif be brought to Tripoli where he could face the death penalty.

NTC officials have yet to indicate their intentions regarding Senussi, who has been detained at a secret location and not seen in public since his capture.

Described as Gaddafi’s “de facto prime minister”, Saif is accused of implementing a brutal plan to put down Libya’s uprising “by any means possible”, ICC judges said in the document that authorised the arrest warrant issued against him in June.

As the most influential person in Gaddafi’s inner circle, he “exercised control over crucial parts of the state apparatus, including finances and logistics”, they added.

Powerful Senussi
Senussi, the ousted leader’s brother-in-law, has been described by the ICC as “one of the most powerful and efficient organs of repression of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime” and is wanted for his role particularly in the former rebel-held city of Benghazi.

He is also wanted in France where a Paris court sentenced him in absentia to life in 1999 over an attack on a French UTA airliner a decade earlier that killed 170 people.

The ICC, which received the green light to probe crimes in Libya through a UN Security Council resolution on February 26, can only prosecute perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity if a country itself is unwilling or unable to do so.

Moreno-Ocampo’s office said on Tuesday that it was continuing its investigation in Libya, which is nevertheless not a signatory to the ICC.

The prosecutor had said in May that another charge of war crimes, which included alleged rapes and attacks since the end of February, would be the subject of a separate investigation. — AFP

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

‘My biggest fear was getting the virus and dying in...

South African Wuhan evacuee speaks about his nine-week ordeal

Border walls don’t stop viruses, but a blanket amnesty might

Why South Africa should consider amnesty for undocumented migrants in the time of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories