[JURIST] Libya’s National Transitional Council [official website] on Thursday refused a request from the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to hand over Saif al-Islam Gaddafi [JURIST news archive], the son of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. Libyan officials have stated they will keep Saif al-Islam prisoner and he will stand trial within the country [BBC report]. This decision comes after the ICC ruled this week that Saif al-Islam must be handed over to the court, marking a departure from previous statements that Saif al-Islam could remain in Libya [JURIST report] and be tried there. That decision was met with protest from human rights organizations [JURIST report] that believed it would be almost impossible for Saif al-Islam to receive a fair trial. One of the big differences between the ICC and Libya is the possible sentence imposed [Reuters report] if Saif al-Islam is found guilty—he faces the death penalty if found guilty in Libyan court, but only a prison term if convicted by the ICC. The ICC still claims jurisdiction over Saif al-Islam because they issued a warrant for his arrest [JURIST report] last June.
After Saif al-Islam’s arrest in November, Libyan leader Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib vowed that he would receive a fair trial [JURIST reports]. ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-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.”