First Published: 2012-10-09

 

Libya insists can match ICC charges against Seif al-Islam

 

Tripoli alleges Seif ordered use of live rounds against civilian demonstrators, that he recruited Pakistani mercenaries to put down revolt.

 

Middle East Online

By Jan Hennop - THE HAGUE

In custody in Zintan since his arrest

Libya has enough evidence to charge Moamer Gathafi'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.

While the ICC wants Seif, the only son of the slain Libyan leader in custody, to be tried in The Hague, Libya's post-revolutionary authorities insist they are willing and able to put him on 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 Gathafi's former spymaster Abdullah Senussi, 63, in June 2011 for crimes against humanity committed while trying to crush the popular revolt against the veteran leader's iron-fisted rule.

Evidence against Seif includes how he told Libyan security forces during a television broadcast to use violence shortly after the outbreak of the uprising in mid-February last year, Sands said.

Tripoli also alleges that 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 toppled his father after more than 40 years in power.

Senussi was extradited to Libya last month from Mauritania, where he was arrested in March as he tried to enter the country from Morocco using a Malian passport under a different name.

Tripoli and the ICC have been at loggerheads since his capture over where Seif al-Islam's should be tried, with Libya's new leaders saying they want him in the dock before one of their courts.

"The government of Libya is committed to carrying out a fair trial for any ex-Gathafi government official," Tripoli's lawyer Ahmed al-Jehani told the ICC.

"We will create a judicial system that is fair and this will prove our commitment to the rule of law," Jehani said of his country's burgeoning post-revolutionary administration.

But, Jehani said, this is a "complicated process and Libya needs more time" to put Seif and other Gathafi loyalists on trial, something that would contribute to reconciliation in the North African nation.

"Swift justice does not allow for due process -- and it is not desirable," Jehani said.

Libyan officials had asked in May for the court to quash a surrender request and throw out the case, saying they had the means to put Seif on trial -- but until now have not managed to do so.

A warrant for the late Libyan strongman was scrapped after Gathafi was killed by rebel forces on October 20 last year.

In a sign of the challenges facing the new Libyan order, premier Mustafa Abu Shagur was dismissed on Sunday after failing to form a government, including naming a justice minister.

Under Libya's transition plan, a new government will be in power for about a year only, until fresh elections on the basis of a new constitution are held.

 

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