Libya Charges Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and His Defense Team With Conspiracy Against the State

Alexandra Valiente
Viva Libya!

According to the International Criminal Court documents published today, Pre-trial Chamber I  has not made a final decision regarding Libya’s right to try Saif Gaddafi.

ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I is expected to make a decision in due course regarding the Libyan government’s challenge to the admissibility of the case against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi filed on 1 May 2012.

On January 5th, Justice Minister Salah Maraghn announced on Libyan national television that “Saif Al Islam Gaddafi, Baghdadi Al Mahmoudi and Abdullah Al Senussi will be put on trial as soon as questioning is completed within the next month.” Attorney General, Taha Bara added,  “the country is not obliged to hand him (Saif Al Islam Gaddafi) over to the ICC … he will be tried in Zintan as they are now fully equipped to host the trial.”

The defense submitted a complaint to Pre-trial Chamber I, alerting them to Libya’s media announcements. (See the OPCD submissions here and here)

On January 10, the ICC Pre-trial Chamber issued the following request:

On 8 January 2013, the Office of Public counsel for the Defence filed before the Chamber a number of newspaper articles, according to which the spokesperson for the Prosecutor-General of Libya and the Minister of Justice announced that the trials for Saif Al-lslam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi are scheduled to start in February 2013 (the “OPCD Notification”).

The Chamber notes articles 17, 19, 57(3), 86, 87 and 89 of the Rome Statute and regulation 28(2) of the Regulations of the Court.

The Chamber considers it necessary that Libya provide observations on the OPCD Notification, including by confirming or not the accuracy of the information contained in the newspaper articles attached thereto.

THE CHAMBER REQUESTS Libya to provide observations on the OPCD Notification by Tuesday, 15 January 2013.

As I had previously stated,

The GNC have failed thus far to meet the prerequisites for admissibility as outlined by the ICC.

Rather than respect the request of Pre-trial Chamber I, the regime filed false charges against Saif and had him appear before a court in Zintan.  Their accusations are that Saif harmed state security by conspiring with spies (his ICC defense counsel and team) and insulted Libya’s new flag.

As the dictatorship believes itself to be answerable to no one, and having been thwarted in their efforts to coerce Pre-trial Chamber I to violate Saif’s right to be represented by legal counsel of his choice by removing his present defense team, they devised this plot in a disgraceful attempt to discredit both Saif and his defense counsel and create an excuse for further trial delays.

In their insufferable arrogance, they have also charged Melinda Taylor and her team with spying and conspiring against the state and have ordered her and her International Criminal Court colleagues to return to Libya immediately.

Initially the Libyan regime was  given until January 23 to meet the demands of Pre-trial Chamber I that would determine the legitimacy of their admissibility claim pertaining to Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al Senussi.

It is clear that the regime hoped to publicly discredit the ICC sufficiently so that they could argue they are absolved of any obligation to obey a final admissibility decision.

These actions have removed the regime’s pretentious mask, revealing their ignominious character, their obsession with revenge and their sinister contempt for the rule of law.

The International Criminal Court cannot permit this situation to continue if it is to preserve any semblance of credibility.

Before this incident,  Pre-trial Chamber I may have been willing to grant Libya the right to try Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al Senussi.  However, it is now imperative that the court take swift action to enforce its jurisdictional rights and protect the prisoners from irreparable harm.

I outlined concerns about trials held in Zintan based on what is known of their intentions towards Saif Al Islam and their well-documented abuses, torture and murder of prisoners associated with Libya’s former legitimate government.

(See Unverified Reports Saif Gaddafi’s Trial Will Be Held in Libya in February)

Abdullah Al Senussi’s lawyer,  Ben Emmerson, has asked that complaints be filed at the United Nations and sanctions be imposed against Libya until it abides by International laws and norms, surrendering both prisoners to The Hague where they will receive a fair trial free from the threat of execution.

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Saif al Islam Gaddafi before the court in Zintan