Gaddafi lawyers fear 'revenge' trial in Libya

Defence lawyers say a trial in Libya will not be motivated by justice and Saif al-Islam "will be hanged".

    The lawyer for the son and one-time heir-apparent of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has given warning that the International Criminal Court's reputation will be damaged if it allows Libya to put him on trial.

    Melinda Taylor, one of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's court-funded defence lawyers, told judges in The Netherlands on Wednesday that any trial in Libya will be "not motivated by a desire for justice but a desire for revenge, and there is no right for revenge under international law".

    Taylor, speaking at a hearing that will ultimately decide whether Saif al-Islam is tried in his homeland, said that though the "government has tried to diplomatically dance around the issue of the death penalty, let's be very clear: if convicted. Mr [Saif al-Islam] Gaddafi will be hanged".

    Libya can guarantee the son of its former leader a fair trial, government lawyers said on Tuesday at a hearing on whether Saif al-Islam should face justice at home or at the ICC.

    Saif al-Islam was indicted in 2011 by ICC prosecutors on charges of murdering and persecuting protesters in the early days of the uprising that ultimately toppled his father's regime.

    A third warrant for Muammar Gaddafi was scrapped after he was killed by rebel forces on October 20 last year.

    Test case

    The 10-year-old Hague-based tribunal is a court of last resort, meaning it only takes on cases from countries where authorities are unwilling or unable to prosecute defendants.

    The Saif al-Islam case is a test of that principle.

    Judges have to weigh the desire of Libya's new rulers to prosecute him against their ability to do so in a nation still in post-conflict turmoil, where the rule of law is being slowly rebuilt after more than four decades of neglect under the Gaddafi regime.

    Judges are expected to take weeks or months to weigh their decision.

    The UN estimates that up to 15,000 people were killed in the conflict, but Libya's National Transition Council put the figure as high as 30,000.

    The ICC is the world's only permanent criminal tribunal set up to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

    Saif al-Islam is being detained by an armed militia in the town of Zintan, and Libya's new rulers say they want to move him to Tripoli and put him on trial.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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