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ICC: Gaddafi son Seif must be tried in The Hague, not Libya

International Criminal Court rejects a final bid by Tripoli's lawyers to try Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam in Libya
Seif was nabbed by Libyan fighters in November 2011 and taken to Zintan (AFP)

THE HAGUE - The International Criminal Court on Wednesday rejected a final bid by Tripoli's lawyers to try slain dictator Moamer Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam in Libya, meaning he must now be transferred to The Hague.

Seif's transfer to face charges relating to the bloody repression of the 2011 uprising that toppled his father however is a moot point as he is being held by a Libyan militia rather than any central authority in the chaos-wracked country.

The presiding ICC judge Erkki Kourulas struck down four grounds of appeal before the world's war crimes court, saying "in the present case the Appeals Chamber confirms the (pre-trial chamber's) decision and dismisses the appeal."

ICC pre-trial judges a year ago rejected Tripoli's request to put Seif in the dock in Libya, saying the country was unable to give him a fair hearing.

This included Tripoli's inability to transfer Seif, Gaddafi's one-time heir apparent, to the Libyan capital from his prison in the hilltop stronghold of Zintan, where he is currently being held by militia members.

Tripoli appealed the original decision a few days later, in June.

Seif, 41, and Gaddafi's former spy chief Abdullah Senussi, around 64, have been charged for their roles in violent attempts to put down the 2011 uprising in the desert country that eventually toppled Gaddafi's regime.

Seif appeared on May 11 by video link in a Tripoli court from Zintan, where he has been held since his capture by rebels in November 2011.

His court-appointed lawyer was unable to attend the hearing, so the trial was adjourned to May 25 to allow him to help his client.

"The ICC Appeals decision today reinforces Libya's long overdue obligation to surrender Seif Gaddafi to The Hague for fair trial," Human Rights Watch's international justice director Richard Dicker said.

"If Libya refuses, the international community should step up and demand his surrender," said Stephanie Barbour, head of Amnesty International's Centre for International Justice in The Hague.

A one-time member of Gaddafi's inner circle and Libya's de facto prime minister, Seif himself was nabbed by fighters in November 2011 and taken to Zintan, southwest of the capital.

The ICC's decision comes against the backdrop of an increasingly volatile situation in oil-rich Libya.