Trial of Gaddafi's son due to start next month

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 23, 2012 11:02 AM
Trial of Gaddafi's son due to start next month

By Taha Zargoun

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Late Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi will go on trial next month, a government source said on Thursday, in the most high-profile prosecution of a figure from the fallen regime.

"The trial of Saif al-Islam is to start next month, probably the second week of the month," the source said.

Saif al-Islam will have to respond to charges which include financial corruption, murder and rape, according to a statement from Justice Minister Ali Ashour in April.

Saif al-Islam's lawyers have voiced concern that their client, viewed by many Libyans as a central power figure in the Gaddafi regime, will not get a fair trial in Libya.

Before he was captured in November by anti-Gaddafi militias, the International Criminal Court (ICC) had issued a warrant for his arrest for crimes against humanity during the uprising that brought down his father.

Libya's new rulers are keen to try Gaddafi's family members and loyalists at home, but human rights activists worry that a weak central government and a lack of rule of law mean legal proceedings will not meet international standards.

Libya has been resisting attempts to transfer Saif al-Islam to The Hague-based ICC. Libya is not a member of the court, but the ICC was granted jurisdiction by the U.N. Security Council last November.

Ahmed Jihani, Libya's representative at the ICC, said he doubted that the proceedings against Saif al-Islam would run to schedule.

"Before the trial starts, the prosecution will need to interrogate Saif al-Islam and this may take until October," Jihani told Reuters.

(Reporting by Taha Zargoun and Souhail Karam; Writing by Souhail Karam; Editing by Andrew Roche)