Gaddafi’s son appears in court

Gaddafi’s son appears in court

03 May 2013

 ZINTAN, Libya Saif al Islam, a son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, appeared in court yesterday in the town of Zintan, where he had been held since his capture by former fighters in November 2011. Saif al Islam, at the centre of a legal tussle between Libya and the International Criminal Court (ICC), smiled and told reporters he was in good health during his brief appearance.

The powerful armed group in Zintan, which spearheaded the capture of Tripoli from Gaddafi's forces in August 2011, has insisted on keeping Saif al Islam imprisoned in the town, about 140 km southwest of the Libyan capital. Once Gaddafi's presumed heir, Saif al Islam is wanted by the ICC on war crimes charges, but the case to be heard in Zintan relates to charges that he gave information to an ICC lawyer last year that could endanger national security.

He was the only defendant of 13 people who were called to appear in court on those charges, confirming he was in the room when his name was called out and that his lawyers were present. The case was then postponed until September 19 because the defence's case was incomplete. The ICC lawyer, Australian Melinda Taylor, was herself detained for three weeks after a meeting in which Saif al Islam is accused of handing over sensitive papers and information.

Taylor has said her detention proved Saif al Islam could not get a fair trial in Libya. ICC lawyers also note that he could face the death penalty if convicted in the North African state — an outcome that would be welcome to many Libyans who suffered under Gaddafi's 42-year rule and in the revolt that toppled him. Libya, which wants to try Saif al Islam itself, has yet to indict him for war crimes, although the public prosecutor has said a case is being prepared and will soon go to court.

Libyan lawyer Ahmed al Jehani, who liaises between the ICC and the Tripoli government, said he expected the ICC to decide in May whether Libya can handle Saif al Islam's trial and that of Gaddafi's former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. — Reuters


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