News / Middle East

Gadhafi Son Makes Brief Libyan Court Appearance

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi in the accused cell as he stands trial for illegally trying communicating with the outside world in June of 2012, Zintan, Libya, May 2, 2013.
Saif al-Islam Gadhafi in the accused cell as he stands trial for illegally trying communicating with the outside world in June of 2012, Zintan, Libya, May 2, 2013.
Reuters
Saif al-Islam, son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, appeared in court on Thursday in the town of Zintan, where he had been held since his capture by former rebels in November 2011.
 
Saif al-Islam, at the center 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 Gadhafi's forces in August 2011, has insisted on keeping Saif al-Islam imprisoned in the town, about 140 km (90 miles) southwest of the Libyan capital.
 
Once Gadhafi'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 Sept. 19 because the defense’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, who had been appointed by the ICC to act as Saif al-Islam's defense lawyer, has said her detention proved he could not get a fair trial in Libya.
 
"These documents as I understand it were nothing more than Saif expressing a preference to be tried by the ICC," said John Jones, the lawyer appointed by Saif al-Islam's family to defend him before the international court.
 
He added that the national security charges Saif al-Islam faced were "the antithesis of justice," and said Libyan authorities had violated his right to speak to a defense lawyer by seizing the documents and detaining Taylor.
 
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 Gadhafi's 42-year rule and in the revolt that toppled him.
 
Libyan indictment pending
 
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 Gadhafi's former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.
 
"We have submitted a great deal of evidence and documentation to convince them we are able," Jehani told Reuters, adding that the dossier included medical reports, confessions and witness statements.
 
"No one can say whether he will get the death penalty," he said when asked if Saif al-Islam was at risk of being executed in Libya. "It is up to the judge," he added.
 
Senussi was handed over to Libya by Mauritania in September after his arrest in Nouakchott in March last year started a tug of war between Libya, France and the ICC for his extradition.
 
Jehani said Taylor, the ICC lawyer, who was among the 13 charged in Zintan on Thursday, could be tried in absentia.
 
The ICC, which is only allowed to try cases if national legal systems are unable or unwilling to deal with them, declined to comment on the proceedings in Zintan.
 
The president of Libya's Human Rights Commission pointed to Saif al-Islam's appearance as an indication he was being looked after in jail and could be tried fairly within the country.
 
"As you can see he is in good health... I can assure you he is being treated well and I wish that all of Libya's detainees could have the same treatment," Mohammad al-Alagi told a news conference in Zintan.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid