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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More