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Libya Says it Has Evidence to Try Qaddafi's Son

Libya has enough evidence to charge Saif al-Islam Qaddafi with crimes against humanity, lawyers tell Hague court.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/10/2012, 6:22 AM

Saif al-Islam Qaddafi
Saif al-Islam Qaddafi
AFP/File

Libya has enough evidence to charge former leader Muammar Qaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, with crimes against humanity, lawyers told the International Criminal Court on Tuesday, according to an AFP report.

The latest announcement comes amid a dispute over where he should face justice.

The ICC wants Saif, the only son of the slain Libyan leader in custody, to be tried in The Hague, but Libya's post-revolutionary authorities insist he should stand trial in his home country.

A probe "has already produced considerable results," Libya lawyer Philippe Sands told a two-day hearing on Qaddafi’s fate. "There is a wide range of evidence that will constitute an indictment the same as that presented by the ICC's prosecutor."

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Saif, 40, and Qaddafi’s former spymaster Abdullah Senussi, 63, in June 2011 for crimes against humanity allegedly committed while trying to crush the revolt against the veteran leader's iron-fisted rule.

ICC defense lawyers argued that Saif would not get a fair trial in Libya, where he could face the death penalty.

Libya's bid and arguments to have the case against Saif quashed in the Hague-based court was "like a house of cards," Melinda Taylor, representing Saif, was quoted by AFP as having said. "When examined in detail it collapses upon itself," she said.

Taylor, who spent nearly a month in detention after she and three other members of a defense team were arrested in Libya after visiting Saif in June, accused Libya's lawyers of misleading the ICC, for instance by saying a possible death sentence for Qaddafi could be commuted.

Australian lawyer Taylor cited a law passed by Libya's post-revolutionary National Transitional Council which said "no child of Qaddafi will ever benefit from leniency."

If convicted, "Mr. Qaddafi will be executed by hanging," Taylor told judges.

ICC prosecutors, however, said Libya should be given more time for the case.

"We see that the case being presented appears to be on track," prosecutor Sara Criscitelli was quoted as having told the ICC's three-judge bench.

"We believe that Libya is interested in prosecuting this offender... we are confident that Libya needs a bit more time to sort itself out," she added.

AFP noted that evidence against Saif includes how he allegedly told security forces during a television broadcast to use violence shortly after the outbreak of the uprising in mid-February last year.

Tripoli also alleges he ordered the use of live rounds against civilian demonstrators and that he recruited Pakistani mercenaries to put down the revolt.

Saif has been in custody in the northwestern Libyan hilltown of Zintan since his arrest last November in the wake of the uprising that ended his father's over 40-year rule.

In a surprise move, Senussi was extradited to Libya last month from Mauritania, where he was arrested in March as he tried to enter the country using a Malian passport under a different name.

Libyan officials had asked in May for the court to quash a surrender request and throw out the case, saying they had the means to put Saif on trial, but until now had not managed to do so.