Africa

Libya not ready to try Saif al-Islam Gaddafi - ICC

  • 31 May 2013
  • From the section Africa
Saif al-Islam after his capture in the custody of revolutionary fighters in Obari, Libya, 19 November 2011
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was seen as the most likely successor to his father

The International Criminal Court's pre-trial chamber has rejected Libya's request to try the son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam.

Mr Gaddafi has been indicted by the ICC on war crimes charges relating to the 2011 uprising which toppled his father.

He remains in the custody of a local militia that captured him in late 2011, and is not in official state custody.

This and other challenges meant Libya was not ready to host the trial, the pre-trial chamber's judges said.

In a statement, the judges at The Hague recognised "Libya's significant efforts to rebuild institutions and to restore the rule of law".

However, Libya continued to "face substantial difficulties in exercising fully its judicial powers across the entire territory", they added.

Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani reiterated Libya's belief that it has the right to prosecute its own citizens, speaking in a telephone conversation with the BBC.

He said it was too early to comment on the ruling, describing it as a "complex dispute" that requires reviewing.

Members of Libya's judiciary say it is important for Saif al-Islam to be tried for alleged war crimes on home soil to revive faith in the Libyan judiciary, the BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli says.

Mr Gaddafi, who was seen as the most likely successor to his father, was captured by militias in the desert town of Ubari in November 2011 - allegedly trying to flee the country.

He is being held in the town of Zintan, where he is facing separate charges, accused of complicity in exchanging information, obtaining documents that threaten national security and insulting the national flag.

The charges are linked to a visit to Mr Gaddafi in June 2012 by ICC lawyer Melinda Taylor and three other ICC staff.

Ms Taylor was accused of clandestinely passing Mr Gaddafi a coded letter from a fugitive former aide.

The ICC staff were held for three weeks and then released to The Hague; they are not expected to return to Libya to face charges.

The ICC issued a warrant for Mr Gaddafi's arrest in June 2011 for two counts of crimes against humanity.

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