ICC’s chief prosecutor says captured son of Muammar Gaddafi could be tried in Libya as long as trial meets court’s standards.
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The chief international criminal court prosecutor has admitted that the captured son of Muammar Gaddafi could be tried in Libya rather than The Hague, meaning he faces the death penalty if convicted.
The ICC, based in The Hague, the Netherlands, has indicted Saif al-Islam Gaddafi for crimes against humanity, but José Luis Moreno Ocampo said he could be tried in Libya as long as the trial complied with ICC standards.
“Saif is captured, so we are here to ensure co-operation,” he told reporters in Tripoli. “In May, we requested an arrest warrant because Libyans could not do justice in Libya. Now, as Libyans have decided to do justice, they could do justice and we’ll help them to do it – that is the system.
“Our international criminal court acts when the national system cannot act. They [the Libyans] have decided to do it, and that is why we are here – to learn and to understand what they are doing and to co-operate.”
Libya, which has promised a fair trial, still has the death penalty on its books. The most severe punishment the ICC can impose is life imprisonment.
“The law says the primacy is for the national system. If they prosecute the case here, we will discuss with them how to inform the judges and they can do it. But our judges have to be involved,” Moreno-Ocampo added.
Saif al-Islam was captured in the Sahara desert and is being held in the town of Zintan, where his captors are based.
An official in Zintan told Reuters that steps towards his prosecution were already being taken. “A Libyan prosecutor met with Saif [on Monday] to conduct a preliminary investigation,” Ahmed Ammar said.
Saif al-Islam’s arrest, which was celebrated by people shooting their weapons into the air around the country, has exposed the tensions between regional clans.
The Zintan fighters who seized him flew him to their hometown rather than to Tripoli, and are holding him in Zintan until the central government is formed.
As Moreno-Ocampo met officials in Tripoli, the National Transitional Council prepared to unveil a new government that aims to reconcile regional and ideological interests.