[JURIST] The Libyan News Agency [agency website] reported on Sunday that the son of Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive], Saif al-Islam Gaddafi [JURIST news archive], and other officials have appeared for their trial via video conferencing. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appeared at his trial [AP report] through video-conferencing because he has been held in Zintan by a militia since 2011. Human Rights Watch reported [JURIST report] in February that Libya has failed to grant due process rights to Gaddafi and other detained officials. There are 37 defendants in the trial, facing a variety of charges including the killing of protesters during the 2011 civil war [JURIST backgrounder]. The trial commenced [JURIST report] earlier in April.
Questions about the rule of law in Libya have arisen in the wake of the the 2011 uprising and subsequent civil war that deposed Muammar Gaddafi. In March Saadi Gaddafi was extradited [JURIST report] from Niger back to Libya to stand trial for crimes allegedly committed during his father’s rule. In February a spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] warned against [JURIST report] recent amendments to Libya’s penal code. Law No. 5 of 2014 imposes prison sentences on any individual “undermining the February 17 revolution” and for “publicly insulting one of the legislative, executive or judicial authorities.” Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi have also faced charges of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC). 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. Back in 2011 Saadi Gaddafi was implicated [JURIST report] in a plot to flee to Mexico by the Secretary of the Interior.