Buzeid Dorda, spy chief under former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive], appeared in court on Tuesday, facing a number of charges associated with the conflict in Libya [JURIST feature] in 2011 which ultimately deposed Gaddafi and his regime. Dorda denied all charges [BBC report], and the case was adjourned until June 26. Libyan Prosecutor-General Abdul Azizi al-Hassadi told reporters last week that he would begin the prosecution [JURIST report] of senior Gaddafi officials in June, starting with Dorda. The Prosecutor-General's announcement came after the Libyan government formally challenged [JURIST reports] the right of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to try Saif al-Islam Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], Muammar Gaddafi's son, last month. Libya has asserted that the ICC does not have jurisdiction. The ICC has agreed to postpone [JURIST report] its order for Libya to turn of Saif al-Islam until the court rules on Libya's challenge. The trials of officials like Dorda are being considered by some as test cases [Reuters report] of Libya's ability to try high-profile Gaddafi associates.
The issue of which court is going to try Saif al-Islam has been in dispute since he was captured [JURIST report] by Libyan rebel forces in November. In April ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] stated that the maximum penalty for Saif al-Islam in the ICC would be life in prison, but if convicted in a national court he could face the death penalty [JURIST report]. Earlier that month Ocampo asked the ICC to report Libya to the UN Security Council [official website] for failing to turn over Saif al-Islam. Libya expressly denied [JURIST report] the ICC's request for such action and stated that Saif al-Islam will face trial within the country. In February 2011 the UN Security Council voted unanimously to refer the matter in Libya to the ICC prosecutor [JURIST report]. The ICC claimed jurisdiction over Saif al-Islam despite its announcement in November that it may allow Libya to conduct the trial [JURIST report]