By Siham Boursoti | Translated from El-Khabar (Algeria)
Anoud Abdullah Sanusi, daughter of former head of Libyan intelligence, denounced the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision allowing the Libyan government to put her father on trial. In her first interview since her release from prison, speaking exclusively to El-Khabar, Sanusi demanded that the international community — especially Algeria — exert pressure so her father may be granted a fair trial. She also talked about the circumstances of her arrest and the disappearance of her cousin on the day of her release from prison in Tripoli.
El-Khabar: First of all, what is your comment on the ICC’s decision to allow the trial to take place on Libyan territory?
Sanusi: I believe the decision issued by the ICC is unreasonable. It came as a shock to me and my family, especially since it came less than 24 hours after the kidnapping of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who is considered the head of the state. If the Libyan government is unable to protect its prime minister, how can it protect my father or any other prisoner? This incident indicated that those who govern the country are the militias and gangs, which have already kidnapped me and the undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice, who was unable to protect me or himself. Moreover, the son of the minister of defense and several heads of media institutions were also kidnapped. In this respect, I would like the international community to keep in mind that when my family came to pick me up from Tripoli, my cousin Tarek Amer was with them — he was kidnapped on that day and there is still no sign to date of his whereabouts.
In light of these circumstances, I find no option but to call upon the ICC to re-examine its decision, accept the appeal we submitted and treat my father as a Libyan citizen who has civil rights, especially since he confirmed to us after the second interrogation hearing that he had been tortured, which was also confirmed by people from within the government. Libya under the rule of militias is neither ready nor qualified to hold a trial of such importance. I would also like to take this opportunity to note that my father has been imprisoned in Libya for 14 months now, and we were only allowed to visit him once, on Feb. 9, 2013, back when I was spending time in prison. I was only able to talk to him for 10 minutes, despite the importance of this visit. It appeared to me that they only allowed this visit to exploit it in the media — to improve the image of the Libyan authorities before the world. Otherwise, why aren’t the Red Cross or even the lawyers allowed to peruse my father’s file and the charges against him?
El-Khabar: I understand that you have no conclusive evidence proving that he was tortured …
Sanusi: We received factual information and photos proving that he was tortured, and there are people from inside the prison who confirmed to us that my father was subjected to torture. There are also a lot of people who know my father, and they want to be witnesses in the case; unfortunately, they are being threatened.
El-Khabar: You described the decision by the ICC as unreasonable. Do you think that the content of the decision has political dimensions or that some states have exercised their influence?
Sanusi: Frankly, I cannot make prejudgements, but it is clear that this decision is politicized, especially since the ICC has been insisting since 2011 that my father be sent to The Hague to stand trial. So how did it change its position overnight? Moreover, this coincided with the Libyan minister of justice’s visit to the ICC, which prompts many questions. Things will become clearer when [we see] if the appeal is accepted or rejected. Abdullah Sanusi’s family will not keep silence regarding any violation of my father’s rights, and we will stand with him until the day we die.
In our opinion, any state that exerts pressure on the ICC to grant trial on Libyan territory is a state that violates the law, since the ICC should not bend to political pressures as a legal entity. We call on the civilized nations of the world that protect human rights, and on the Arab countries, to stand with us, to extend us a helping hand and grant my father a fair trial. I would like to address a message to those accusing my father of committing crimes. My father is not capable of committing these crimes. Libya was a state ruled by dozens of officials and my father was not the only one working within this regime.
El-Khabar: What are the charges against your father?
Sanusi: We do not know exactly. When I was in Libya they told me that my father is accused of involvement in the alleged abuses that took place in the Abu Salim prison. But God knows that he is innocent, and those who have committed these crimes fled abroad. My father is being tried for a crime he did not commit, and all I want is for the people of Libya and the world to give my father the chance to help them uncover the truth.
We know that some of the media institutions exaggerated the crimes attributed to him, and in this respect I call upon international organizations, Arab leaders and the countries of the free world that respect human rights — such as the United States, Britain and France — to give my father a fair trial if the ICC refuses the appeal.
We also request that the next hearing, scheduled for this Thursday [Oct. 24] — the third session before the indictment chamber — be held publicly, so that the world and the Libyan people know what happens behind closed doors and the truth about Abdullah Sanusi, and give him the chance to defend himself. An open hearing is one of the rights of the accused, in addition to the right to a lawyer and the right to receive calls and visits from his family.
El-Khabar: The defense said that intelligence services affiliated with some countries conducted an investigation into [the affairs of] your father. What are your comments about this and to which state are these services affiliated?
Sanusi: This is a violation of the sovereignty of Libya, because we know that the Libyan investigation authority affiliated with the government is the only one authorized to investigate. We do not know the intelligence services that intervened in this matter, but we received information that is yet to be confirmed; therefore, we have some reservations about this information.
El-Khabar: How do you see the situation in Libya after the fall of the former government and the proliferation of arms?
Sanusi: Indeed, arms are abnormally common in Libya, which has affected neighboring countries as well and increased crime rates. My father, who is accused of committing crimes, is now in prison and the crime rate has increased, while back when he was working in the former government the crime rate was not high. Moreover, back then al-Qaeda did not exist. It only emerged after his imprisonment and the fall of the legitimate government. I would also like to point out that during my presence in Libya I noticed a lot of prisons that are not state-owned, where prisoners are tortured to death.
El-Khabar: Can you tell us how you were kidnapped?
Sanusi: The state could not protect me, even though the undersecretary of the Ministry of Defense was with me. How would it protect me, a simple girl who did not have any role in the former government, even if my father is a great and well-known figure. My cousin was also abducted, and his only mistake is that he came to pick me up from the south.
People who kidnapped me were masked and armed, and I was very scared. I did not know my fate, whether I would be killed or raped. However, they treated me well and did not hurt me or offend my honor.
I was hurt morally and psychologically, because I was forbidden to see my family. I suddenly found myself getting out of a big jail into another one. The kidnappers told me that they wanted to protect me from the militias that were waiting for me at the end of the road, to use me as a trump card to get my father to admit to acts he did not commit. This is what the government later confirmed. When I was released, there was talk about a deal between Haitham al-Tajouri, commander of the First Support Brigades — which is affiliated with the government — and the government. This confirmed that there is a dispute between the general staff of the government. What do I have to do with this?
El-Khabar: What do you think of Algeria’s stance regarding the Libyan situation?
Sanusi: Algeria is a neighboring country, and we appreciate its honorable stance in support of the Gadhafi’s family. It protected my aunt, Muammar Gadhafi’s wife. This is one of the things that will always be remembered in history. Algeria has indeed taken many noble stances toward Libya. Unfortunately, Algeria did not offer my father any help, although he respected its people and government.
We are expecting Algeria to stand by my father and help us provide a fair trial for him. It is not a difficult matter for a country that sacrificed 1 1/2 million martyrs.
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