Judicial tug of war in Libya over Kadhafi son

September 19, 2013 2:40 pm
Seif al-Islam at his father's residential complex in the Libyan capital Tripoli on August 23, 2011/AFP
Seif al-Islam at his father’s residential complex in the Libyan capital Tripoli on August 23, 2011/AFP

, TRIPOLI, Sep 19 – Slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi’s son made a rare court appearance Thursday in a case highlighting the post rebellion wrangle between Libya’s regional authorities and the Tripoli government.

Seif al-Islam Kadhafi stood briefly in the dock before a judge adjourned his case in the western town of Zintan, where he has been in the custody of ex-rebels since his capture after his father’s overthrow and slaying in 2011.

Former rebels in control of the town had refused to hand him over to attend a simultaneous pre-trial hearing before judicial authorities in the capital Tripoli, 180 kilometres (110 miles) away.

“Seif al-Islam Kadhafi appeared before the Zintan court that decided to adjourn the trial until December 12 to allow the attendance of other accused in the case,” the lawyer who was present in court told AFP.

Video footage posted on the Internet showed Seif, 40, standing in the dock behind metal bars and flanked by two masked guards in body armour.

“As for the proper function of judicial proceedings, I want my trial and all other cases to be held in Zintan,” the accused was heard to say.

Prosecutor general Abdulqader Radwan said on Wednesday he had ordered Seif’s transfer to Tripoli to face charges there, the latest of several attempts to negotiate his transfer to the control of the state authorities.

Rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both urged the immediate handover of Seif al-Islam and ex-intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi to the International Criminal Court to face war crimes charges, despite Tripoli’s insistence on trying him first.

Kadhafi’s former heir apparent and others including Senussi are accused of crimes during the revolt two years ago.

An AFP journalist said Senussi and more than 20 former regime officials appeared in court in Tripoli for Thursday’s pre trial hearing amid heavy security.

The session was held in camera in a judicial and penal complex surrounded by armoured cars and pickup trucks bristling with anti-aircraft guns.

Among the defendants were Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, Kadhafi’s last premier, ex-intelligence chief Bouzid Dorda and former foreign minister Abdelati al-Obeidi, all in blue prison uniforms.

“All of the accused rejected the charges against them en bloc,” one lawyer said on condition of anonymity as he emerged from the proceedings.

He said the trial was adjourned until October 3 after a defence request for more time to study the case.

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