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Saif al-Islam Gaddafi sentenced to death in Libya
The British-educated son of Col Muammar Gaddafi has been sentenced to death by firing squad by a court in war-torn Libya.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the debonair friend of Lord Mandelson and other European notables who returned to his father's side during the 2011 revolution, was found guilty of war crimes by a court in the capital Tripoli.
He had appeared at hearings by video-link, as he was captured - in the deep Sahara desert in late 2011 - by a militia from the town of Zintan, which is fighting Tripoli-based brigades in the country's civil war.
Also sentenced to death were Col Gaddafi's notorious security chief and brother-in-law, Abdullah Senussi, who is accused by some of masterminding the Lockerbie bombing, his prime minister, Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, and six other aides.
They appeared in person, having been extradited from neighbouring countries to Tripoli before security collapsed in Libya.
The sentence was condemned by the United Nations and human rights groups, who said the trial lacked transparency.
The UN high commissioner for human rights said the trial had failed to pin accountability for individual crimes to individual defendants.
"We had closely monitored the detention and trial and found that international fair trial standards had failed to be met," a statement said.
"There were also serious issues relating to access to lawyers, claims of ill-treatment, and trials conducted in absentia."
Amnesty International said: "Instead of helping to establish the truth and ensuring accountability for serious violations during the 2011 armed conflict, this trial exposes the weakness of a criminal justice system which is hanging on by a thread in a war-torn country with no central authority."
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was the most western-oriented of Col Gaddafi's eight children, and took a PhD from the London School of Economics - part of which he was subsequently accused of plagiarising.
A charitable foundation he set up donated the LSE's Centre for the Study of Global Governance £1.5 million - though it only received and spent the first £300,000 before it was compelled by the scandal to give it up.
He spent several years abroad, and argued for political reform at home. After the "deal in the desert" with British prime minister Tony Blair, he was allowed to put some of his reform proposals, mainly economic, into practice.
Amongst his most important legacies was a deal with Islamist groups which led to the release of high-ranking Islamist prisoners - several of whom went on to play major roles in the revolution.
However, if he was ever his father's designated successor, as reports at the time of the revolution said, he seems to have fallen out of favour by 2010. Two younger brothers, Mutassim and Khamis, played major military roles in attempting to put down the uprising. Both were killed.
When the revolution started, Saif al-Islam took the side of his father, and gave a television address in which he wagged his finger aggressively at the rebels, calling them "rats". In subsequent weeks, western media allowed into Tripoli were invited to interview him, and he harangued gatherings of young Gaddafi loyalists.
His television speech and one such harangue formed part of the case against him, the court arguing that he had incited murder. The International Criminal Court had urged Libya to hand him over for trial in the Hague, saying he could not get a fair trial at home, but that was refused.
Senussi masterminded some of the worst crimes of the Gaddafi era, in particular the shooting dead of an alleged 1,200 prisoners at Abu Salim jail in Tripoli in 1996.
He was also found guilty in absentia by a French court for ordering the bombing of UTA Flight 772 over Niger, which killed 170 people in 1989. A Libyan dissident was on board.
The similarity to the bombing of Pan-Am 103 over Lockerbie the previous December led many to allege he also organised that attack.
[Source: By Richard Spencer, Middle East Editor, The Telegraph, London, 28Jul15]
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