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International prosecutors back demand Saif Gaddafi stands trial in Libya

Libyan prosecutors told the International Criminal Court on Tuesday that there was "considerable" evidence to prosecute Gaddafi and to hold a trial in February 2013.

Philippe Sands QC, acting for the Libyan government said that an investigation, carried out with international assistance, supported ICC indictments for murder and persecution against Mr Gaddafi.

Mr Sands gave evidence on Tuesday at a two-day hearing at the international war crimes court in The Hague to determine where the son of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator killed by rebels last year, will face trial.

"There is a wide range of evidence that will constitute an indictment the same as that presented by the ICC's prosecutor," he said.

"There is considerable evidence concerning Mr Gaddafi's participation in these crimes."

Mr Sands said evidence against Saif Gaddafi, included telephone intercepts of him ordering attacks, including the use of live ammunition against civilian demonstrators and that he recruited Pakistani mercenaries to put down the revolt against his father's dictatorship last year.

A key piece of prosecution evidence will show footage of Mr Gaddafi grabbing an automatic weapon and urging his followers to fight, recorded in February 2011, as the regime prepared to send tanks into Benghazi and attempt to crush Libya's democratic revolution.

Prosecutors added their support for holding the trial in Libya ahead of decision by ICC judges by the end of the year.

Prosecution lawyer Sara Criscitelli told judges, "We are confident that Libya is interested in prosecuting these crimes and this offender."

"We see that the case being presented appears to be on track," said ICC prosecutor Sara Criscitelli. "We believe that Libya is interested in prosecuting this offender. We are confident that Libya needs a bit more time to sort itself out."

Mr Gaddafi has been in custody in the western Libyan mountain town of Zintan since his arrest last November in the wake of the uprising that toppled his father after more than 40 years in power.

The fiercely anti-Gaddafi Zintan fighters who took him prisoner have so far refused to hand him over but Mr Sands told the ICC that after the formation of a new government, following elections in July, his transfer to a special prison in Tripoli was a "priority", so he could go on trial in a specially constructed courtroom.

"The government of Libya is committed to carrying out a fair trial for any ex-Gaddafi government official," said Ahmed al-Jehani another of Tripoli's lawyers.

"We will create a judicial system that is fair and this will prove our commitment to the rule of law."

Libya has pleaded that bringing Saif Gaddafi to trial is a "complicated process and Libya needs more time" in the transition from dictatorship and revolution to democracy and rule of law.

"Swift justice does not allow for due process - and it is not desirable," said Mr al-Jehani.

The ICC held a closed session to hear allegations made by the Libyan government against Melinda Taylor, an Australian lawyer appointed to defend Mr Gaddafi by the ICC.

Mrs Taylor and four of her colleagues were held by the Libyan authorities for 26 days in June after travelling to Zintan to help prepare his defence.

She accused Libya's lawyers of misleading the ICC for saying a possible death sentence could be commuted to life by highlighting a Libyan law which said "no child of Gaddafi will ever benefit from leniency"

"If convicted, Mr Gaddafi will be executed by hanging," she said.

Mrs Taylor and ICC officials were accused of carrying a pen camera and attempting to give Mr Gaddafi coded letter from his former right-hand man, Mohammed Ismail, who is wanted by the Libyan authorities.

The hearing could herald a major test of the Libyan authorities willingness to obey international law, if the ICC demands that Saif Gaddafi is handed over to The Hague.

[Source: By Bruno Waterfield, The Telegraph, London, 09Oct12]

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small logoThis document has been published on 15Oct12 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.