[JURIST] The trial against 41 Libyans accused of assisting Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] in suppressing the revolt during the Libya conflict [JURIST backgrounder] was postponed Sunday after a brief start, according to the Libyan news agency LANA. The men face charges [Tripoli Post report] of murder and helping prisoners escape. The court postponed the trial in response to pleadings [Reuters report] by the defense panel that the case be transferred to the civil judiciary because the military court allegedly lacks competence to rule on the issue. The trial is set to resume on February 15.
Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, faces the death penalty in Libya for crimes against humanity based on charges of killing protesters. If he is transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to stand trial, he would be one of the most prominent figures to be tried by the ICC. Last week, in response to international criticism, the Libyan Ministry of Justice announced [JURIST report] that it will be commandeering “makeshift prisons” around the country to prevent further torture of detainees. Deputy Minister Khalifa Ashour acknowledged that primarily loyalists to former dictator Gaddafi have been tortured in unregulated prisons. Allegations of war crimes and human rights violations have been widespread in the aftermath of the Libyan conflict. In January Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported the recent deaths of several Libyan detainees who were apparently tortured while in custody [JURIST report]. In the midst of the Libya conflict, the ICC issued an arrest warrant [JURIST commentary] for Saif al-Islam, who was an extremely recognizable figure in the Gaddafi regime.