Libya wrestles with ICC over right to try Gaddafi’s son
* ICC wants Seif to be tried in The Hague
* ICC issued arrest warrants for Seif, former spymaster last year
THE HAGUE: Libya has enough evidence to charge Muammar Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam with crimes against humanity, lawyers told the International Criminal Court on Tuesday amid a dispute over where he should face justice.
The ICC wants Seif, the only son of the slain Libyan leader in custody, to be tried in The Hague, but Libya’s post-revolutionary authorities insist he should stand trial in his home country. A probe “has already produced considerable results,” Libya lawyer Philippe Sands told a two-day hearing on Seif’s fate. “There is a wide range of evidence that will constitute an indictment the same as that presented by the ICC’s prosecutor.”
The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Seif, 40, and Gaddafi’s former spymaster Abdullah Senussi, 63, in June 2011 for crimes against humanity allegedly committed while trying to crush the revolt against the veteran leader’s iron-fisted rule. ICC defence lawyers argued that Seif would not get a fair trial in Libya, where he could face the death penalty
Libya’s bid and arguments to have the case against Seif quashed in the Hague-based court was “like a house of cards,” said Melinda Taylor, representing Seif. “When examined in detail it collapses upon itself,” she said. Taylor - who spent nearly a month in detention after she and three other members of a defence team were arrested in Libya after visiting Seif in June - accused Libya’s lawyers of misleading the ICC, for instance by saying a possible death sentence for Gaddafi could be commuted.
Australian lawyer Taylor cited a law passed by Libya’s post-revolutionary National Transitional Council which said “no child of Gaddafi will ever benefit from leniency.” If convicted, “Gaddafi will be executed by hanging,” Taylor told judges. But ICC prosecutors said Libya should be given more time for the case. “We see that the case being presented appears to be on track,” prosecutor Sara Criscitelli told the ICC’s three-judge bench. “We believe that Libya is interested in prosecuting this offender... we are confident that Libya needs a bit more time to sort itself out.”
Evidence against Seif includes how he allegedly told security forces during a television broadcast to use violence shortly after the outbreak of the uprising in mid-February last year, Libya’s lawyer Sands said. Tripoli also alleges Seif ordered the use of live rounds against civilian demonstrators and that he recruited Pakistani mercenaries to put down the revolt.
Seif has been in custody in the northwestern Libyan hilltown of Zintan since his arrest last November in the wake of the uprising that ended his father’s over 40-year rule. In a surprise move, Senussi was extradited to Libya last month from Mauritania, where he was arrested in March as he tried to enter the country using a Malian passport under a different name.
“The government of Libya is committed to carrying out a fair trial for any ex-Gaddafi government official,” Tripoli’s lawyer Ahmed al-Jehani told the ICC, also not ruling out future cooperation with the ICC in the case.
But, Jehani said, this was a “complicated process and Libya needed more time” to put Seif and other Gaddafi loyalists on trial, something that would contribute to vital reconciliation in the North African nation. afp