Libya to delay trial for Gaddafi’s son for five months

Libya to delay trial for Gaddafi’s son for five months

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[JURIST] The trial for Saif al-Islam [JURIST news archives], one of Muammar Gaddafi’s sons, will be postponed for five months so the prosecution can obtain evidence from Libya’s former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi [BBC profile], government officials announced on Sunday. Al-Senussi was extradited to Libya [JURIST report] from Mauritania last Wednesday on charges of murder and persecution for planning attacks on civilians during the Libya conflict [JURIST backgrounder]. Saif al-Islam’s trial was originally scheduled to start [JURIST report] this month. Although the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] issued a warrant for Saif al-Islam for crimes against humanity, the militiamen who captured him insist [BBC report] that he be tried in Zintan, Libya, where he has been held since last year. Saif al-Islam was considered a likely successor to his father before an uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. If convicted, Saif al-Islam could face the death penalty.

The dispute over who will try Saif al-Islam has soured relations between Libya and the ICC. In August Saif al-Islam said that he would prefer a trial in the ICC [JURIST report] because he felt he could not get a fair trial in Libya. In June four ICC staff members who traveled to Libya to speak with Saif al-Islam were detained [JURIST report] by Libyan security forces. They were in custody for nearly four weeks. Upon her release [JURIST report], ICC lawyer Melinda Taylor said she did not believe Saif al-Islam would receive a fair trial in the country. Three officials from the ICC and the Australian ambassador to Libya were able to visit [JURIST report] and assess the condition of the four detained ICC staff members after their detention. A judicial source in Libya told reporters shortly after their detention that the four could remain in “preventative” detention [JURIST report] for 45 days while an investigation is conducted. The four staff members were detained after Taylor was accused of attempting to give documents to Saif al-Islam that were from his former aid, Mohammed Ismail, who has been in hiding since the Libyan conflict began.