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Libya urges ICC to allow national trial for Gaddafi's son

Libyan government lawyers on Tuesday urged [press release] International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] judges to allow Saif al-Islam [JURIST news archives] to be tried in Libya, promising a fair trial for the son of former leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. Libyan officials spoke during a hearing before the ICC, which is set to decide [Reuters report] whether Saif al-Islam will be tried in Libya or at the ICC in The Hague. ICC judges are worried that Libya cannot provide a fair trial [AP report] for Saif al-Islam, who stands accused of crimes against humanity for murder and persecution during the Libya conflict [JURIST backgrounder] under Gaddafi's regime. Prosecutors indicated that they are willing to hand the case over to Libya but Saif al-Islam's lawyers insist that he will not get a fair trial there. If the ICC decides that Libya cannot provide a fair trial, there will be no way to enforce this decision, but Libya would be violating international law should the government choose not to comply.

Last month Libya postponed [JURIST report] Saif al-Islam's trial for five months so the prosecution could obtain evidence from Libya's former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. Al-Senussi was extradited to Libya [JURIST report] from Mauritania earlier in September on charges of murder and persecution for planning attacks on civilians during the Libya conflict. Saif al-Islam's trial was originally scheduled to start [JURIST report] in September. Although the ICC issued a warrant for Saif al-Islam for crimes against humanity, the militiamen who captured him insist 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.

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