News / Middle East

Libya, International Court At Odds Over Trials

Former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, shown here Aug. 21, 2011, speaking with reporters in Tripoli, Libya.Former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, shown here Aug. 21, 2011, speaking with reporters in Tripoli, Libya.
x
Former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, shown here Aug. 21, 2011, speaking with reporters in Tripoli, Libya.
Former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, shown here Aug. 21, 2011, speaking with reporters in Tripoli, Libya.
The International Criminal Court has toughened its stance toward Libya, ordering the country’s new rulers on Thursday to halt a pending trial in Tripoli of Moammar Gadhafi's former spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi.
 
The ICC judges insisted that Senussi be surrendered to the Hague-based court instead to face charges of mass killings and other atrocities.
 
Libyans worry the move foreshadows a likely ICC demand for Libya to hand over Gadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam.  Al-Islam is being held at Zintan in northwest Libya after being captured at the end of the uprising that ousted his father from power.
 
Debate over where to try Senussi and other high-ranking Gaddafi officials raged even before the Gadhafi regime was toppled over a year ago. In June 2011, four months before Gadhafi fell, Saif and al-Senussi were indicted by the ICC on war crimes charges for their alleged roles in trying to stamp out the uprising.
 
The ICC “orders the Libyan authorities to proceed to the immediate surrender of Mr. Senussi to the court,” the ICC judges said the ruling made public Thursday. “Libya remains under obligation to comply with the surrender request."
 
Longstanding concerns

Lawyers at The Hague have long expressed their concern about Libya’s ability to conduct trials that can meet international legal standards. They fear prosecutions will turn into show trials.

If the Libyan government refuses to comply with the demand, ICC officials say the court will then decide whether to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council.

Thursday’s ICC’s ruling raises the stakes in an increasingly acrimonious standoff between the international court and Libya’s government over who should prosecute relatives and aides of Gadhafi, who was killed by rebels in October, 2011.
 
ICC officials worry that if they fail to persuade Libya to comply, then the prestige and authority of the court will be damaged and encourage other countries to defy the court’s instructions.
 
Last month, the ICC pressed Libya to detail its plans for conducting fair trials of Gadhafi’s son and the former intelligence chief.

Secret hearing

The Libyans responded by bundling Saif al-Islam, unannounced, into a secret hearing in Zintan – his first court appearance since his capture – where more charges were filed against him. Al-Islam had previously been charged by Libya with war crimes.

Saif al-Islam, son of Moammar Gadhafi, makes a peace sign before meeting reporters in Tripoli, Libya, Aug. 23, 2011.Saif al-Islam, son of Moammar Gadhafi, makes a peace sign before meeting reporters in Tripoli, Libya, Aug. 23, 2011.
x
Saif al-Islam, son of Moammar Gadhafi, makes a peace sign before meeting reporters in Tripoli, Libya, Aug. 23, 2011.
Saif al-Islam, son of Moammar Gadhafi, makes a peace sign before meeting reporters in Tripoli, Libya, Aug. 23, 2011.
At the hearing, Libyan prosecutors also filed formal accusations in absentia against an ICC lawyer and a translator, accusing them of involvement in an alleged conspiracy over the summer to help al-Islam escape from jail.

During a June visit to Zintan, militiamen detained ICC defense lawyer Melinda Taylor and her Lebanese translator, Helene Assaf. The two were accused of spying and passing escape plans to Gadhafi’s son -- allegations that both women vehemently denied. Taylor, Assaf, and two other colleagues were released after 25 days detention.

Taylor had clashed with Libyan officials repeatedly before her detention when she argued that any Libyan trials of former Gadhafi officials would fail to meet international standards.

Libyans resist outside trials

Libya’s prosecutor-general’s office insists the country can hold fair trials of former Gadhafi aides and it has the backing of key national leaders, including Mahmoud Jibril, head of the moderate coalition that won the majority of party seats in last July’s elections.

They say the ICC is only mandated to take cases from countries that are unable or unwilling to prosecute war criminals. Libya is both willing and able to do so, they say.

Al-Senussi’s lawyer, Ben Emmerson, hailed Thursday’s ICC demand, saying the international court had "ordered an immediate halt to Libya's unseemly rush to drag Mr. al-Senussi to the gallows before the law has taken its course."
 
In its statement, the ICC also demanded that Emmerson be given access to his client, something Libyan authorities have blocked since al-Senussi was transferred to Libya from Mauritania last September.
 
Public pressure has been growing in Libya for Saif and other top regime figures to stand trial in the country and not handed over to the ICC.  Former U.N. diplomat Omar Bakhet, however, warns that “trials [in Libya] could lay the seeds for future conflict and won’t help advance reconciliation.”

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
February 07, 2013 7:42 PM
The ICC should not interfere with national courts willing to prosecute citizens of the country, who are alleged to have committed their crimes in the country. The victim, victim's relatives, friends, society need to see the trials to get closure. If the ICC suspects the criminals will get away with light sentences, or no sentences at all, then it should send a team and monitor the court's workings. Sometimes, I think the ICC is just looking for cases to keeps itself relevant. It would be much better if the ICC would audit, and help national judicial systems, to ensure their procedures are up to standard. It is the right, obligation and duty for states, to bring in front of the courts anyone that has committed crimes on their sovereign territories. When, and only when, a national court fails to try an accussed multiple criminal, then the ICC should step in and carry out the procedures to ensure justice takes place, and it serves the people.
My opinion is that the ICC is failing in its duty to be impartial, by presuming that, at a future time the courts of Lybia will not act correctly; such presumption of future improprieties has no standing as a legal argument, anywhere but in dictatorial states. Once the Lybian court has done its work, the ICC can judge how well it did its work, but not "a priori...." It only makes sense, that local authorities should judge local criminals. It almost seems like a form of colonialism, that the natives can't be trusted to do the job right??

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid