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HRW: Gaddafi and former officials held without due process

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Thursday reported [HRW report] that Libya has failed to grant due process rights to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and other detained former government officials. On January 23 HRW interviewed Gaddafi, who revealed that he and the other detainees have been denied access to legal counsel. Moreover, he claimed they were not afforded an opportunity to review the evidence submitted against them in relation to crimes they allegedly committed during the 2011 uprising [JURIST backgrounder]. Following the interview, HRW deputy director Nadim Houry criticized the Libyan government, stating, "The Libyan government should make greater efforts to ensure these detained former officials have adequate legal counsel and the opportunity to defend themselves fairly before a judge." Under the Libyan Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) [text, PDF], if a case is remitted to trial, and a defendant has not elected a lawyer, the chamber must appoint one. During the interview, Gaddafi confirmed that he was not present for any of the pretrial sessions but said he knew of some criminal charges against him. Gaddafi and other detainees stated that their lawyers had no access to court documents, witness statements, or the evidence against them. Gaddafi has yet to appear before a judge.

Gaddafi and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi have also faced charges of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. In October the ICC ruled [decision, PDF] that the case against al-Senussi is inadmissible before the ICC [press release] and can only be heard by domestic courts in Libya, but noted that the decision did not affect the issue with regards to the charges against Gaddafi. The ICC's decision marked the most recent development in a legal battle between Libya and the ICC [JURIST op-ed] regarding al-Senussi and Gaddafi. The two men were also charged with murder [JURIST report] by Lybian prosecutors in August. A month earlier, the ICC rejected [JURIST report] the country's request to suspend an order to hand over al-Islam Gaddafi to face the international charges. In June Gaddafi's lawyer accused Libyan officials [JURIST report] of defying the ICC by announcing that his domestic trial would begin in August despite the ICC's attempts to have him extradited. The order demanding Libya to extradite al-Senussi [JURIST report] to face charges of crimes against humanity was made by the ICC in February.

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