Skip to main content

Trial of former Gaddafi figures, son begins in Libya

Saif al-Islam and 23 other defendants are accused of committing war crimes during Libya's 2011 uprisings.
Former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and former Libyan foreign intelligence chief Bouzid Dorda, attend their trial in Tripoli. (AFP)

TRIPOLI - The trial of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and several former top officials for alleged war crimes committed during the 2011 uprisings began Monday and was quickly adjourned until 27 April.

Along with Gaddafi's son, former head of Libyan intelligence Abdullah Senussi, former prime minister Baghdadi Mahmudi and former foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi are being tried. The 24 defendants face charges including murder, kidnapping, complicity to incite to rape, plunder, sabotage, embezzlement of public funds and acts harmful to national security.

The trial was postponed at the defense team's request to allow more time to review case documentation, a judicial source said.

While 23 defendants appeared in the courtroom, Saif Islam Gaddafi - held in a jail in Zintan, a large city in western Libya since his arrest in November 2011 - did not attend the trial proceedings due to “security reasons," according to a prosecution official. 

The central authorities in Tripoli have tried without success to negotiate his transfer to the capital. The court decided on Monday to allow Saif Islam Ghaddafi, and other prisoners held in the eastern city of Misrata, to appear for trial hearings via video link.

Gaddafi's other son, Saadi, who faces similar charges, did not attend the proceedings as his alleged violations are still being investigated, said a judicial source.

The group of former regime loyalists was charged in October. Their trial was originally due to begin on 24 March but it was postponed because some defendants, including Saif Islam Gaddafi, were absent.

Saif Islam Gaddafi and former spy chief Senussi are also wanted for trial by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the uprising.

Last May, the ICC rejected Tripoli's request to try the two men in Libya because of doubts over a fair trial. Tripoli appealed the decision which then lead the ICC give Tripoli the go-ahead to try Senussi inside the country in October. 

Human Rights Watch called on Libyan authorities to provide proper defense counsel to Saif Islam Gaddafi,and his co-defendants to ensure a fair trial.