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

    Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    update Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    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

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

    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.
    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