ICC prosecutor goes to Libya on Gaddafi son case

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 18, 2012 9:54 AM
ICC prosecutor goes to Libya on Gaddafi son case

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - War crimes prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo arrived in Tripoli on Wednesday to continue investigating charges against Muammar Gaddafi's detained son, Saif al-Islam, sought for trial by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Hague-based court issued an arrest warrant for Saif al-Islam last year, after prosecutors accused him and others of involvement in the killing of protesters during the revolt that eventually toppled his father.

However Libya has insisted he will be tried in his home country, despite having still been unable to prize him out of the hands of the militia fighters who caught him in the southern desert in November. Saif al-Islam remains in a secret location in the western town of Zintan.

Upon arrival at Tripoli airport, Moreno-Ocampo told reporters: "I'm here because I am still investigating crimes."

Asked whether a potential deal was being brokered with the Libyan government about trying Saif al-Islam in Libya under the supervision of the ICC, he said: "I am a prosecutor at the ICC, I don't make deals. We apply the law.

"The judges of ICC ordered (Libya) to surrender Saif. The Libyan government says they will challenge the admissibility of the case before the end of April and then the judges will decide."

The ICC this month rejected Libya's request to postpone handing over Saif al-Islam to face war crimes charges. The court ordered Tripoli to "comply with its obligations to enforce the warrant of arrest" and surrender him without delay. Libya has appealed the decision.

A U.N. Security Council Resolution obliges Libya to cooperate with the court, the ICC says, and Tripoli's failure to hand him over could result in it being reported to the Council.

Ahmed al-Jehani, the Libyan lawyer in charge of the case and who liaises between the Libyan government and the ICC, said last week the Zintan fighters who captured and hold Saif al-Islam want him tried locally.

Libya's government wants to transfer him to the capital and put him on trial there. He faces the death penalty if found guilty by a Libyan court but a prison term if convicted by the ICC.

Moreno-Ocampo said he would also travel to the coastal city of Misrata during his trip to Libya.

"I am going to Misrata ... because we have a mandate to investigate all the crimes committed here so we have to see what Libya is investigating."

Former rebel fighters in Misrata are holding some Gaddafi aides in prisons but it was not immediately clear what Moreno-Ocampo planned to visit while in the city, which lies east of the capital.

(Reporting by Taha Zargoun; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)