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ICC prosecutor asks court to report Libya to UN over Gaddafi son

International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] on Thursday asked the court to report Libya to the UN Security Council [official website] for failing to turn over the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Ocampo's request comes after Libyan officials on Tuesday appealed the ICC's decision to seek a handover of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi [JURIST news archive]. The ICC's decision marked a departure from previous statements that Saif al-Islam could remain in Libya [JURIST report] and be tried there. In late February 2011 the UN Security Council voted unanimously to refer the matter in Libya to the ICC prosecutor [JURIST report], and now they will have to decide whether to pursue the action with greater involvement. Libya claims jurisdiction over Saif al-Islam for his actions as part of the previous regime and refused last week [JURIST report] to hand him over to ICC authorities. The ICC, however, claims jurisdiction over Saif al-Islam as well, because they issued the arrest warrant [JURIST report] for him last summer. The biggest difference between the two forums is that in Libya, Saif al-Islam could face the death penalty for his action, while in the ICC he would only face a prison term. Libya's failure to extradite Saif al-Islam to the Netherlands for trial could result in the enforcement of punishment by the Security Council. The Council has the power to initiate some form of penalties against the Libyan government, but to do so all permanent members must support the decision.

After Saif al-Islam's arrest in November, Libyan leader Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib vowed that Saif al-Islam would receive a fair trial [JURIST reports] in Libya. Ocampo said in October that he has evidence against Saif al-Islam [JURIST report] for his role in planning attacks on Libyan civilians. Ocampo says that there is "substantial evidence" that Saif al-Islam hired mercenaries to assist him in carrying out plans to attack demonstrators that protested the rule of his father. In February JURIST Guest Columnist D Wes Rist of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law discussed the confusion [JURIST op-ed] surrounding Saif al-Islam's prosecution, noting that, "[a]ny attempt extend the reach of the ICC into areas it was not created to address runs the risk of weakening the overall authority of the Court and the willingness of member states to comply with ICC orders."

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