Today, Saif al-Islam, son of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was sentenced in absentia to death by firing squad after being found guilty of war crimes by the Tripoli court. Held since 2011 by a former rebel group in Zintan that opposes the Tripoli government and refused to hand him over, Saif al-Islam’s trial had begun in April 2014. Saif al-Islam had appeared by video link in sessions at the start of trial but not later on.
Saif al-Islam had appeared by video link in sessions at the start of trial ©EPA
Saif al-Islam was tried alongside his brother, Saadi Gaddafi, and other former officials of the Gaddafi regime, including Abdullah al-Senussi, the former intelligence chief to Muammar Gaddafi, as well as two former prime ministers and 34 senior officials of the old regime. Abdallah al-Senousi and former PM Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi are among the eight people also facing the death penalty, while other defendants have received sentences ranging from five years to life imprisonment. They will be given the right to appeal.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) had expressed concerns about the failures, with particular concerns over fairness, of Libya’s justice system. The situation in Libya was referred by the UN Security Council (UNSC) to the ICC in February 2011. Challenged by the Libyan authorities, the ICC found in October 2013 that the case against Mr Al-Senussi was inadmissible before the Court but confirmed in May 2014 that the case against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi was admissible. On December 2014, the ICC had issue a finding of non-compliance by the Government of Lybia to the UNSC with respect to the nonexecution of two requests for cooperation, i.e. requests to surrender Saif Al‑Islam Gaddafi to the Court and to return the originals of the documents of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi’s Defence.
According to Salah al-Bakkoush, a Tripoli-based political analyst, the rulings should not have strong resonance in Lybia. “Libyans in general have so many problems right now that many were not even following the trial,” he told Al Jazeera. “Those who participated in the struggle against the regime of Gaddafi will be following and will be happy.”
Yesterday, Chatham House in conjunction with Doughty Street Chambers hosted a lecture on “The ICC and Libya: Complementarity in Conflict”. The featured speakers were Professor Kevin Jon Heller from the School of Oriental and African Studies, Melinda Taylor, defence counsel and former head of the Office of Public Counsel for the Defence at the ICC, and Carla Ferstman, Director at REDRESS.
The discussion centred around the admissibility decisions in the cases of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi before the ICC. In July 2014, the Appeals Chamber held that the case against al-Senussi was inadmissible and that the Libyan authorities were willing and able to try him. Earlier, in May 2014, the Appeals Chamber reached the opposite decision in the case of Gaddafi holding that the case was admissible and ordering his transfer from detention in Zintan to the ICC. Continue reading
by Miša Zgonec-Rožej*
On 21 May, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague rejected Libya’s bid to prosecute Saif Gaddafi domestically and confirmed that he should be tried by the ICC. The ICC’s decision is the correct one and hopefully Libya will comply with it.
According to the Rome Statute, the ICC cannot try a case where the same case is being investigated or prosecuted by a state which has jurisdiction over it, unless the state is unable or unwilling genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution. The Appeals Chamber confirmed that Libya had not provided enough evidence to demonstrate that it was investigating the same case as the one before the ICC.
The decision comes as no surprise. The situation in Libya has been in a state of near-anarchy, characterized by lawlessness, insecurity, and an ineffective police and judicial system. UN and human rights organizations report widespread abuses, and the government has been unable to control the militias who continue to exert their influence and pressure on Libyan authorities, including the judiciary. Continue reading
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi after his capture in 2011 (c) The Guardian
The trial of Saif al-Islam and Saadi Gaddafi, sons of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, begins today in Tripoli. The brothers are accused of coordinating a campaign to murder, torture, and bombard civilians during the Libyan civil war in 2011. They are also accused of plundering state resources in order to fund their extravagant lifestyles.
They are being tried alongside Abdullah al-Senussi, the former intelligence chief to Muammar Gaddafi, as well as two former prime ministers and 34 senior officials of the old regime.
Security concerns have caused the trial to be moved to the maximum security Al Hadba prison. Yet, when the trial commences, Saif al-Islam will not be present as the rebel militias responsible for his detention in Zintan province continue to refuse to hand him over. He will be tried instead by video link.
Both Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi are the subject of proceedings before the International Criminal Court. In May 2013, judges ruled that Saif al-Islam should be surrendered to The Hague but in October 2013, found that Libya is fit to try al-Senussi for themselves. The latter decision is being appealed by defence counsel for Mr al-Senussi.