THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Criminal Court told Libya Thursday it has to hand over the son and one-time heir-apparent of ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi so he can face charges of crimes against humanity.
Rejecting Libya's request to suspend an earlier order to Tripoli to hand over Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, judges at the Hague-based court said Libya is "currently obliged to surrender Mr. Gadhafi to the court."
An international legal tug-of-war has been going on for months between the international court and Libya over where Seif al-Islam should face justice. Libyan authorities have said they will try him next month.
Libya appealed the court decision that Gadhafi's son should be tried in The Hague and asked for an order to surrender him to be suspended pending the outcome of that appeal. The court rejected that request for suspension on Thursday.
Libya has argued that Seif al-Islam should be tried at home, but judges and the suspect's lawyers have cast doubt on the country's ability to give him a fair trial. Defense lawyer John Jones said last month that Seif al-Islam could be executed in Libya before the appeal is completed if he is not handed over to the court.
"The possible implementation of the death penalty in domestic proceedings would also create a grievous and irremediable consequence for Mr. Gadhafi, and completely undermine the ability of the Appeals Chamber to render a determination on the appeal," Jones wrote to the court.
Libyan prosecutors said in June that Seif al-Islam, Gadhafi-era spy chief Abdullah al-Senoussi — who also is wanted by the ICC — and ex-premier al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, along with ex-spokesman Milad Daman, will be tried in August for crimes committed during Gadhafi's 42-year rule and the eight-month civil war that deposed him.
In The Hague, Seif al-Islam is charged with murder and persecution of civilians during the early days of the popular 2011 rebellion that eventually toppled his father. If convicted he would face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment at the Hague court, which does not have the death penalty.
Gadhafi was also charged, but the case was dropped after he was captured and killed by rebels.