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

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora