Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Gaddafi son’s atrocity: Failing to licence camels
Saturday, 14 April 2012 18:18
The most serious charge against Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (39) that Libya managed to back with evidence is over his failure to obtain a licence for his camels, the head of Human Rights Watch says. Kenneth Roth cited on his Twitter account complaints of lawyers of the International Criminal Court (ICC), who said the case of Saif is a “legal black hole”.
According to the lawyers, Libya said it would not charge “serious crimes, such as murder and rape, due to lack of evidence” and has only managed to charge him with “the absence of a licence for camels, and irregularities concerning fish farms” so far.
The ICC forcefully demanded that Saif al-Islam be extradited to The Hague earlier on Thursday. But the Libyan government refused to do so, insisting that it will try him on its soil.
Following the refusal, an unnamed lawyer from the ICC told journalists that the detainee had been attacked in prison and is suffering from a lack of dental treatment.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is one of three Libyan leaders indicted by the ICC with war crimes, along with his late father Muammar Gaddafi and the head of intelligence for Gaddafi’s government.
He was captured by the militia of the city of Zintan in November 2011 and has been kept there ever since.
The government in Tripoli has limited control over the leaders of Zintan tribes, which makes their ability to enforce an extradition order for Saif al-Islam questionable.
On Wednesday, The Hague court inadvertently released a scathing report in which a senior registrar who interviewed Saif, being held by militia in the mountain town of Zintan, said there was evidence of torture.
The report, which judges withdrew two hours after they posted it on the ICC website, said the registrar was unable to meet Saif alone in his cell, with a Libyan prosecutor insisting on being present. Only when the official briefly left the room was Saif able to speak freely.
“The registry representative quickly asked the suspect how he was and whether he was mistreated,” she wrote.
“His attitude changed from relaxed to intense and without saying a word he waved the hand where two fingers were missing and pointed to a missing tooth in the upper front of his dentition.”
ICC rules state that a suspect must be handed over to The Hague court for trial, unless a government can demonstrate it can hold fair proceedings on home soil.
Libya says it will present a request for a home trial by 30 April, but the justice minister, Ali Khalifa Ashur, said last weekend that Saif’s trial would start before that date and would be finished before elections scheduled for June.
“It is clear that the ICC will not be in a position to render its decision on the admissibility of the case until after Mr Gaddafi has been tried, and potentially sentenced and executed,” wrote Keita.
Amnesty International has complained that Libya's justice system is "virtually paralysed" and unable to hold a fair trial.
A referral to the UN security council, if ordered, would represent a show of strength for the court as it struggles to assert its authority.
It also takes the ICC into uncharted territory.
In the past, the UN and EU have ordered sanctions against Serbia and Croatia for failure to hand over war crimes suspects.—