Saturday, August 1, 2015

Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi's son sentenced to death in Libya

- A Libyan court in the capital Tripoli sentenced Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam to death for war crimes, including the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising. Gaddafi, was killed by rebel forces after being captured near the city of Sirte.
Among eight others sentenced to death by firing squad were the former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, and the ex-prime minister Baghdadia al-Mahmoudi, according to Sadiq al-Sur, chief investigator at the Tripoli state prosecutor's office. Eight other ex-officials of the Gaddafi regime were given life sentences. Four of the 37 defendants were acquitted while the rest received shorter jail terms. The death sentences will be appealed in the Libyan Supreme Court in 60 days.
Human Rights Watch(HRW) and others condemned the trial claiming it was full of legal flaws and in a setting of widespread lawlessness that was said to undermine the credibility of the judiciary. Legal experts claim the trial was flawed and politicized from the start. The written verdict is expected to spell out the charges upon which the verdict was based. Saif al-Islam was tried in absentia. He has been held since 2011 by the Zintan rebel group in a mountainous area outside of the control of the Tripoli government. The Zintanis do not trust Tripoli, and fear that if Saif were given to Tripoli authorities he might escape. However, they did allow him to be tried by Tripoli and he appeared via a video link at the beginning of his trial. Other defendants were held in Misrata a city under control of the Tripoli government.
HRW complained that defense lawyers for the accused did not have full or timely access to files for the cases. Several lawyers were unable to meet their clients in private. Two lawyers quit after threats. Joe Stork, of HRW said:"There are serious questions about whether judges and prosecutors can be truly independent where utter lawlessness prevails and certain groups are unashamedly shielded from justice," Joe Stork, HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director, said in an emailed statement.This trial was held in the midst of an armed conflict and a country divided by war where impunity has become the norm ...The victims of the serious crimes committed during the 2011 uprising deserve justice, but that can only be delivered through fair and transparent proceedings,"The UN Human Rights Office also condemned the trial as well as the incarceration of the defendants.
Originally the International Court of Justice(ICC) had wanted to try both Saif al-Islam and Senussi at the court in the Hague Netherlands. In 2013 the ICC granted Libya the right to try them. The trial began back in April of 2014.
There have been demonstrations against the decision in the city of Bani Walid a former Gadaffi stronghold. The green flags of the Gaddafi regime are evident. There were also protests in Sirte one of Gaddafi's home towns but now controlled by the Islamic State. In spite of the fact that Gaddafi persecuted radical Islamists one can see the green flags of the regime at the Sirte protest.


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