Debate Over Fate of Gaddafi’s Son Continues
By Elianna Mintz
A panel of judges at the International Criminal Court will decide in the coming weeks if ICC war crimes indictee Saif Gaddafi should be turned over to the Hague or tried by a national court in Libya, the court’s top prosecutor said Wednesday.
Libya officially requested the ICC drop its indictment against Muammar Gaddafi’s most prominent son earlier this month, so that he could stand trial in Libya. But ICC Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s says he will present his “reservations” against the Libyan government’s request on June 4.
The ICC issued arrest warrants for Saif Gaddafi and former Libyan military intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi back in June 2011. Both men are accused of crimes against humanity stemming from the crackdown on last year’s uprising against the longstanding regime.
The details surrounding Saif’s possible trial have been a contentious issue since he was first captured by a rebel militia in November. Libyan officials have repeatedly said they would not turn him over to the ICC.
The country’s new government says it considers his trial a matter of national pride and an important first step for Libya’s new justice system.
But Human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, question whether unproven Libyan courts can meet international legal standards, concerns echoed by the ICC’s chief prosecutor.
“National authorities are in charge of their national state so in principle Libya should handle the case but their capability needs to be determined,” Moreno-Ocampo told reporters Wednesday.
While Moreno-Ocampo was skeptical about the Libyan government’s ability to handle a fair trial, he did admit that Libya had “documents” unavailable to the ICC that could help with the charges against Saif.
Gaddafi’s former spy chief Abdullah al-Senoussi meanwhile continues to be detained in Mauritania, where he was apprehended in March 2012. Mauritanian officials have yet to indicate if they will hand over al-Senoussi to the Libyan government or to the International Criminal Court.