Death sen­tence for Gad­hafi’s son

Hu­man rights groups say trial un­der­mined by se­ri­ous due process vi­o­la­tions

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES / WORLD -

Moam­mar Gad­hafi’s son and one­time heir ap­par­ent was con­victed and sen­tenced to death on Tues­day by a court in the Libyan cap­i­tal, Tripoli, on charges of mur­der and in­cit­ing geno­cide dur­ing the coun­try’s 2011 up­ris­ing.

But Seif al-Is­lam Gad­hafi is un­likely to face the fir­ing squad any­time soon. The sen­tence was handed down in ab­sen­tia be­cause he re­mains in the hands of a mili­tia in western Libya that has re­fused to hand him over for the past four years — yet another sign of the coun­try’s bit­ter frag­men­ta­tion since his fa­ther’s fall from power.

The un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing Seif al-Is­lam’s fate un­der­lines both the weak­ness of the courts and the gen­eral chaos this North African na­tion has de­scended into, split be­tween ri­val mili­tias and gov­ern­ments while be­ing threat­ened by an af­fil­i­ate of the ex­trem­ist Is­lamic State group, which has ben­e­fited from the tur­moil and cap­tured some ar­eas in Libya.

The same Tripoli court on Tues­day also sen­tenced to death eight other former regime of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing former Libyan spy chief, Ab­dul­lah al-Se­noussi, who is in cus­tody in the Libyan cap­i­tal, as well as for­eign in­tel­li­gence chief Abuzed Omar-Dorda and Gad­hafi’s former prime min­is­ter, Bagh­dadi al-Mah­moudi.

The rul­ings can be ap­pealed, and a de­fence lawyer in the case, Ali Al­daa, said he would chal­lenge it be­fore the Libyan Supreme Court. Another lawyer, Hussien Al-Sherif, de­scribed the ver­dicts as “very harsh.”

“We did not ex­pect the sen­tences to be like this for the de­fen­dants, and there will be an ap­peal to the Supreme Court,” he said.

In Lon­don, al-Se­noussi’s wife, Fatma Farkash, as­serted that the Tripoli court didn’t have the au­thor­ity to hand down the death sen­tence.

“It was a big shock for me and my chil­dren. We were not ex­pect­ing this. It was an ugly ver­dict,” she said.

“Libya doesn’t have a func­tion­ing state, and it was a closed hear­ing.”

U.S.-based Hu­man Rights Watch said the trial was “un­der­mined by se­ri­ous due process vi­o­la­tions,” and called on the Libyan Supreme Court to in­de­pen­dently re­view the ver­dict.

“This trial has been plagued by per­sis­tent, cred­i­ble al­le­ga­tions of fair trial breaches that war­rant in­de­pen­dent and im­par­tial ju­di­cial re­view,” said Joe Stork, Hu­man Rights Watch’s deputy Mid­dle East and North Africa di­rec­tor.

“The vic­tims of the se­ri­ous crimes com­mit­ted dur­ing the 2011 up­ris­ing de­serve jus­tice, but that can only be de­liv­ered through fair and trans­par­ent pro­ceed­ings,” Stork said.

Other in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights and the Coun­cil of Europe, also con­demned the ver­dict.

AP PHOTO

Seif al-Is­lam is seen af­ter his cap­ture in the cus­tody of rev­o­lu­tion­ary fight­ers in Zin­tan, Libya, in Novem­ber 2011. A court in the Libyan cap­i­tal has sen­tenced al-Is­lam, Moam­mar Gad­hafi’s son, to death over killings dur­ing the coun­try's 2011 up­ris­ing.

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