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

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.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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