Libya to try Gadhafi's son next month

AP News
Posted: Aug 27, 2013 1:17 PM

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's son and his spy chief were charged on Tuesday with murder in relation to the country's 2011 civil war and are set to stand trial, said Libya's general prosecutor.

Abdel-Qader Radwan told reporters that the trial will start Sept. 19 on alleged crimes committed during Gadhafi's 42-year rule and during the eight-month-long civil war that deposed him.

The defendants are former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi and Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the heir apparent and only son of the former dictator who is in custody. A total of 28 former regime members will face trial that day on various charges ranging from murder, forming armed groups in violation of the law, inciting rape and kidnappings.

Radwan said Libyan authorities have issued more than 280 arrest warrants for those wanted on similar charges.

Radwan's aide, al-Seddik al-Sur, said spy chief al-Senoussi has confessed to collaborating on producing car bombs in the city of Benghazi, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising.

He added that "defendants were not subject to any form of pressure to extract confessions."

The International Criminal Court charged Seif al-Islam Gadhafi with murder and persecution of civilians during the early days of the uprising. If convicted in that court, he would have faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, because it does not have the death penalty. This summer, the international court judges had ruled that Libya cannot give Seif al-Islam a fair trial and asked authorities to hand him over to The Hague.

Nonetheless, Gadhafi's son remains held by a militia group that captured him in the western mountain town of Zintan as he was fleeing to neighboring Niger after rebel forces took Libya's capital.

He is also being tried on separate charges of harming state security, attempting to escape prison and insulting Libya's new flag. The charges are linked to his 2012 meeting with an international court delegation accused of smuggling documents and a camera to him in his cell. Zintan rebels held the four-member team but released them after the court apologized and pledged to investigate the incident.

Hold The Damn Vote Already
Derek Hunter

According to filings by defense lawyers at the court, Seif al-Islam said he wants to be tried for alleged war crimes in the Netherlands, claiming that a Libyan trial would be tantamount to murder.

The rest of Seif al-Islam's family, including his mother, sister, two brothers and others, were granted asylum in Oman in 2012, moving there from Algeria, where they found refuge during the civil war.

The rule of law is still weak in Libya after decades of rule by Gadhafi. Courts are still paralyzed and security remains tenuous as unruly militias proliferate.

The state, however, relies heavily on militias to serve as security forces since the police and military remain a shambles. Successive governments have been too weak to either secure Seif al-Islam's imprisonment in the capital, Tripoli, or put pressure on militia groups to hand him over to the government.