The International Criminal Court asked Libyan authorities Thursday to explain widespread reports that they plan to put Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi on trial next month.
The request was the latest move in a long-running legal saga over where Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and Abdullah al-Senussi will stand trial — at the world’s first permanent international war crimes tribunal in The Hague or in their home country.
Both men have been indicted by the ICC for alleged crimes against humanity. Both remain in custody in Libya.
ICC judges preparing for their possible trial in The Hague asked Libyan justice officials to explain their plans following reports earlier this month which said the men’s trials are scheduled to start in February. The request also came a day after Ben Emmerson, a British lawyer representing Al-Senussi, asked the court to order Libya to suspend “the commencement of any trial proceedings in the national courts.”
Emmerson said Libya has an international legal obligation to turn over Al-Senussi to the ICC based on a United Nations Security Council resolution. He also warned that his client’s trial in Libya would “inevitably constitute a flagrant denial of justice, and may result in the imposition and carrying into effect of the death penalty.”
The Libyan government has asked the Hague-based court for the right to put Saif al-Islam on trial in Libya.
Human rights groups have cast doubt on the Libyan judicial system’s ability to give former members of the Gadhafi regime a fair trial.
Libya is not a member of the ICC, however it is legally bound to cooperate with it because the Security Council ordered the court to open an investigation in Libya.
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