Qaddafi son’s new lawyers urge ICC to drop case

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

THE HAGUE—New lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the son of slain Libyan leader Moamer Qaddafi an­nounced Mon­day they will ask the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court to quash the case against him as he has now been tried and con­victed by a Libyan court.

Seif al-Is­lam, who has been in a five-and­half-year le­gal tug-of-war be­tween the ICC and Tripoli, is wanted by the tri­bunal in The Hague to face charges of crimes against hu­man­ity re­lat­ing to the bloody re­pres­sion of the 2011 up­ris­ing that top­pled his fa­ther. Seif, 44, has been held in the north­ern hill­top strong­hold of Zin­tan since his ar­rest in Novem­ber 2011.

Last year, in a move heav­ily crit­i­cised by the UN, he was sen­tenced to death by a Libyan court for try­ing to put down the deadly revolt that saw Moamer Qaddafi’s 40-year rule end in his own mur­der.

Now he has ap­pointed his own de­fence team for the first time, af­ter his ear­lier lawyers were as­signed by the ICC.

The new lawyers told jour­nal­ists in The Hague that they will ask the ICC’s judges to scrap the case, bas­ing their ar­gu­ment on the so­called prin­ci­ple of “dou­ble jeop­ardy”.

“The re­al­ity is that a trial has taken place. He has been tried and con­victed in Libya. It’s a clear prin­ci­ple of law that one can­not be tried twice for the same of­fence,” vet­eran de­fence lawyer Karim Khan told a press con­fer­ence.

“The court will re­ceive a fil­ing from us, the lawyers of Seif al-Is­lam in due course, seek­ing to de­clare the case in­ad­mis­si­ble,” Khan said. “The ICC should not be a sub­sti­tute for lo­cal courts, but base it­self on the prin­ci­ple of com­ple­men­tar­ity,” Libyan lawyer Khaled Zaidy added.

Zaidy last met with Seif in prison in late 2015 and said he is in reg­u­lar con­tact and re­ceiv­ing in­struc­tions from him. “Health­wise he is rather good,” he said, but Seif had been think­ing a lot about the sit­u­a­tion in Libya.

De­spite the death sen­tence, Seif may ben­e­fit from a pro­posed gen­eral amnesty law in Libya that his fam­ily had been as­sured “will be ap­pli­ca­ble to all Libyan na­tion­als with­out ex­cep­tion,” Zaidy said. Seif and eight oth­ers were sen­tenced to death by a Tripoli court in July last year. They in­cluded Qaddafi’s for­mer in­tel­li­gence chief Ab­dul­lah Senussi, who saw the ICC drop a sim­i­lar case against him.

Seif was not in court dur­ing the Tripoli hear­ings, but was able to tes­tify via vide­olink from Zin­tan. His le­gal team also in­sisted he is be­ing held a Libyan gov­ern­ment jail run by the jus­tice min­istry and that ru­mours he was in the hands of Zin­tani mili­tias were “to­tally ground­less”. In the past the mili­tias re­fused to hand him over to Tripoli and the ICC.

Asked whether he be­lieved whether Seif re­ceived a fair hear­ing be­fore be­ing handed the death penalty, Khan said the out­come and ques­tions over the Libyan process — which was crit­i­cised for not meet­ing in­ter­na­tional stan­dards — were “legally ir­rel­e­vant” to the case be­fore the ICC.

“There’s been a trial, there’s been a process, there’s been a con­vic­tion and he is still in cus­tody. How on earth is that not dou­ble jeop­ardy?” Khan asked.

The West­ern-backed over­throw of Qaddafi’s iron-fisted rule in 2011 plunged Libya into chaos, with ri­val rebel forces seizing as much ter­ri­tory as they could.

Now IS ji­hadist groups have taken ad­van­tage of the up­heaval to es­tab­lish a pres­ence in the north­ern African country.—AFP

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