Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Libya resists world court's bid to try Gadhafi son

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AMSTERDAM -- The Libyan government on Tuesday formally challenged the International Criminal Court's right to try Moammar Gadhafi's son for war crimes, arguing he should face justice on Libyan soil despite concerns he may not receive a fair trial there.

It also asked The Hague, Netherlands-based court to drop its demands to hand over Seif al-Islam Gadhafi while it considers the challenge.

The international court or ICC, is authorized by the UN to try war crimes committed last year as rebels fought the Gadhafi regime. It has issued an arrest warrant for the late dictator's son for allegedly killing and persecuting civilians during the uprising.

Seif was captured by rebels last year and is being held in isolation in the western Libyan town of Zintan. Ultimately the court has no police force or other way of enforcing its rulings, and can only appeal to the UN if Libya were to flout them.

However, the ICC does not oppose Seif being tried in Libya in principle, spokeswoman Sonia Robla said Tuesday.

The court only tries cases when a country is unable or unwilling to do so itself. But its judges must agree Seif will face substantially the same charges he was indicted on and his trial will be fair, she said.

"Holding Seif al-Islam's trial in Libya is a demand from the Libyan people," Mohammed al-Hareizi, a spokesman for the National Transitional Council, said Tuesday. "He must be tried in Libya because he committed war crimes against Libyans and it means a lot to the Libyan people to try Seif in Libyan courts."

The Arab League supports Libya's right to try al-Islam.

The court published Libya's formal request for the court to drop its case against Seif, along with a linked case against Gadhafi's former military intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senoussi.

"Libya respectfully submits... its (own) national judicial system is actively investigating Mr. Gadhafi and Mr. al-Senoussi for their alleged criminal responsibility for multiple acts of murder and persecution... amounting to crimes against humanity," it said.

Al-Senoussi was arrested last month in Mauritania. Libya is seeking his extradition.

Human Rights Watch is concerned Seif will not get a fair trial in Libya, given the government's lack of control over some areas, including Zintan, in the aftermath of the civil war.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 2, 2012 A12

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