Libya will try Gaddafi’s son fairly, says ICC prosecutor
TRIPOLI, Nov 24 ― Libya will make a point of giving Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam a fair trial to show the world it is no longer a tinpot dictatorship, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said today.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo has said he will not demand that Saif al-Islam be handed over to the Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity even though he has no guarantee that a Libyan trial would be fully fair.
In a Reuters interview, he said he believed Libya would still put together a convincing trial and not a whitewash.
“They are committed to doing something very good,” Moreno-Ocampo said in Tripoli after meetings with Libyan officials following Saif al-Islam’s capture on Saturday.
“They want to show the world that this is a serious country with smart people and they can do a good job. It’s an issue of national pride. I think you should not distrust them so easily.”
The National Transitional Council (NTC), which led the revolt that toppled Gaddafi in August and has ruled the country since his fall, has repeatedly said it will not hand over Saif al-Islam and will ensure that he faces a fair trial in Libya.
Moreno-Ocampo said the NTC had officially informed the Hague-based court that it intends to keep Saif al-Islam in Libya for the time being. It has yet to officially request from the ICC that the trial take place in a Libyan court.
Moreno-Ocampo said that although there were concerns about the state of Libya’s judiciary after Gaddafi’s 42-year rule, he believed the outcome would be satisfactory.
Until judges in the Hague allow the trial to be held under Libyan law, the ICC and Libyan prosecutors would continue separate investigations, with the Libyans providing the ICC with their findings, Moreno-Ocampo said.
The ICC indicted Saif al-Islam along with his father and Libya’s former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi over their alleged involvement in the killing of protesters during the revolt that eventually brought down Gaddafi.
In addition to investigating the same events as the ICC, Libyan judicial officials had launched a probe into five counts of alleged corruption by Saif al-Islam, Moreno-Ocampo said.
“We had a meeting with the general prosecutor here. They have five cases of corruption against Saif and they have a similar investigation to our investigation,” he said.
If Saif al-Islam were charged with multiple murders over the deaths during this year’s uprising, he would face the death penalty under Libyan law. The maximum sentence the ICC could impose would be life in prison.
He is being held by fighters from the mountain town of Zintan who captured him in the southern desert. They say they are ensuring his protection and will hand him over to the interim government, which was due to take office today.
Despite reports of former intelligence chief Senussi’s capture on Sunday, Moreno-Ocampo has said he appeared to still be at large, making Senussi the last man on the ICC’s wanted list in Libya who has yet to be found.
While Moreno-Ocampo’s Libyan investigation would continue, cases in Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya would also keep him busy until his mandate expired in June. His next item of business was Sudan’s western region of Darfur.
“Next week we will request a new arrest warrant in Darfur,” the 59-year-old said, though he declined to say who it was for.
During his two-day visit to Tripoli, Moreno-Ocampo has underscored the importance of holding the trial in Libya as the country emerges from decades of dictatorship, much as his native Argentina did with trials of former junta leaders.
“In Argentina we did a national case in ‘85, no international lawyer or prosecutor and it was a fair trial,” said Moreno-Ocampo, who worked on those cases as a prosecutor.
“The Libyans are very eager to show that they can do it as well,” he added.
Public opinion in Libya appears to be strongly opposed to handing over Saif al-Islam to the Hague but Moreno-Ocampo said the concern for Libyans was that Gaddafi’s son would be able to spend his days in relative comfort.
“They don’t like (the idea of) Saif in a nice jail in the Netherlands,” he said. ― Reuters