Rus­sian says Gad­hafi’s son can seek pres­i­dency

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS -

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.

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