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Kadhafi's son, spymaster face Libyan justice

22 november 2011, 16:41
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Seif al-Islam, the captured son of killed Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, making a statement in Zintan following his arrest. ©AFP/ZINTAN MEDIA CENTRE
Seif al-Islam, the captured son of killed Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, making a statement in Zintan following his arrest. ©AFP/ZINTAN MEDIA CENTRE
Moamer Kadhafi's son Seif al-Islam and his spymaster Abdullah Senussi were on Monday both behind bars as Libya's new leaders moved to bring the former regime's two most wanted men to justice, AFP reports.

The National Transitional Council, Libya's interim authority, insists that Seif, arrested on Saturday in the country's far-flung Saharan south, be brought to trial in Libya where he could face the death penalty.

NTC officials have yet to indicate their intentions regarding Senussi but are likely also to want to see him tried at home rather than at the International Criminal Court in The Hague where both he and Seif faces charges of crimes against humanity.

World powers, fearful that Seif would not be given a fair trial after his father was felled by a bullet to the head after being captured on October 20, are urging Libya to work with the ICC.

"The decision is that he will be tried by Libyan courts. It is a question of national sovereignty," NTC vice chairman and official spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga told reporters in Tripoli late on Sunday.

Interim justice minister Mohammed al-Allagui told AFP Kadhafi's son would be tried in Libya "because local justice is the rule and international justice is the exception".

"We have the necessary guarantees for a fair trial, especially after the amendment of a law that guarantees the independence of the judiciary as regards the executive," he said.

ICC spokesman Fadi Al-Abdallah told AFP that the Libyan authorities were obliged to cooperate with the ICC and surrender Seif to the court as required by the UN resolution on Libya.

Abdallah said on Sunday that the ICC had not yet been officially notified of Libya's position on the issue nor of the arrest of Senussi.

"If the Libyan authorities want to hold the trial in Libya, they must submit a request to the ICC and the judges will decide," he said.

"According to the principle of complementarity and the Statue of Rome, the priority rests with national law."

After three months on the run, Seif was caught early on Saturday in a trap set by a Zintan brigade of militiamen loyal to the new regime.

Ex-spy Senussi was captured in the south on Sunday, officials said.

Bashir Uweidat, who heads the southern Wadi Shati military council, said Senussi "did not put up any resistance" and was arrested by former rebels in his sister's home in the Al-Guira region.

Ghoga confirmed the arrest of Kadhafi's brother-in-law, who is also wanted by the ICC.

The court issued warrants on June 27 against Seif, 39, Kadhafi and Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed when Kadhafi's forces crushed a popular uprising in February.

In particular, it accused Senussi, 62, of being an "indirect perpetrator of crimes against humanity of murder and persecution based on political grounds" committed in Benghazi.

Senussi has been described by the ICC as "one of the most powerful and efficient organs of repression of Moamer Kadhafi's regime".

He is also wanted in France where a Paris court sentenced him in absentia to life in 1999 over an attack on a French UTA airliner a decade earlier that killed 170 people.

World powers have repeatedly urged Libya's new rulers to respect international norms in dealing with prisoners amid reports of abuse, and are now urging the NTC to cooperate fully with the ICC.

Zintan military council chief Osama Juili said Seif would be held there until a new transitional government decides his fate.

"At the moment, he is being held in Zintan. We are going to guarantee the treatment of prisoners under international law," Juili said. It was not immediately clear where Senussi was being held after his capture.

The new government, which was due to be announced on Sunday, has been delayed by 48 hours at the most, Ghoga told reporters.

He did not say why, but it appears that Seif's arrest was the reason for the postponement.

Libya's interim prime minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib said on Saturday that Seif would be given a fair trial.

"I reassure our people and the world that Seif, and those with him, will be given a fair trial in which international rights and norms will be guaranteed," Kib said.

Meanwhile, a four-day defence ministry conference on reorganising the national army began on Sunday in the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of the rebellion.

The gathering is expected to discuss the integration into the army of civilians who battled against Kadhafi's forces.

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