Russian says Gadhafi’s son can seek presidency
The son of deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has the right to run for president next year despite facing charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, a top Russian official said.
Seif al-Islam, a onetime heir apparent to his father who has leadership ambitions, could become a unifying figure in the oil-rich but chaotic North African state, said Mikhail Bogdanov, theMiddle East envoy of President Vladimir Putin. “I think it will depend on their political will” in Libya, he said in an interview in Moscow this week. “The country has practically fallen apart, Libyans find it very hard to talk to each other.”
Gadhafi’s son is wanted by The Hague-based tribunal for crimes against humanity relating to a violent crackdown on 2011 demonstrations against his father’s rule. The Libyan autocrat was overthrown and killed later that year, ending more than four decades in power. The court’s chief prosecutor in October rejected Seif al-Islam’s bid to have the charges dropped, with his defense arguing he’d been convicted of the same offenses in Libya. Seif al-Islam, who was held by the Zintan militia in western Libya after his capture in 2011, was tried in absentia in a Tripoli court and convicted in 2015. The rebels holding him decided to free him in 2016 after Libya’s easternbased parliament declared a general amnesty.
He hasn’t been seen in public since. Bogdanov said he is in touch by phone with Seif al-Islam, who’s assured himthat he’s safe. “Where is he? I don’t want to know.”
Tripoli prosecutors continue to seek the arrest of Seif al-Islam, saying he needs to be re-tried.
“The local Libyan legislature and judicial authorities have already delivered a verdict that he shouldn’t be pursued and has the right to participate in the political life of the country like any other Libyan citizen,” said Bogdanov, who is also deputy foreign minister. He noted that neither Russia nor the U.S. recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC.