According to the regime, Saif was interviewed from Zintan. The questions offered no opportunity for Saif to disclose his genuine thoughts and feelings. He was forced to follow a script crafted for the sole benefit of the regime. This was a violation of his right to act and speak freely for his greater good in a manner that would provide an avenue for a fair and transparent trial. Neither was he permitted to express his views regarding a potential trial at the Hague.
“…Saif Al-Islam has given a strange one-minute TV interview in Zintan, in which he answered just three questions, agreed in advance with his lawyer.
Saif was asked about his heajth and whether he was being visited by human rights organisations and members of his family. To both inquiries, he replied…
“Yes. Thanks be to God.”
The interviewer then asked why he wished to be tried in Zintan and not Tripoli.
…Saif asked the interviewer if Zintan was not part of Libya?
The interviewer said it was, to which Saif responded…
“Well there you are then”.
The TV station had convinced Saif’s Libyan lawyer, Mohamed Abu Semah and the Zintani forces…that he should make an on-screen appearance to confound rumors that he had escaped custody and left the country.
Saif’s expressed satisfaction with a Libyan trial is new.
In the past the defense lawyers appointed for him by the International Criminal Court, have said that their client wished to be tried in the Hague, because he does not believe that he can receive a fair trial in his home country. Libya is still contesting an outstanding ICC demand that Saif be handed over. The ICC has however now accepted that Qaddafi’s former security chief Abdullah Senussi will now be tried fairly in Libya. Senussi’s ICC legal team is currently appealing that ruling, even as his trial gets under way in Tripoli.
Saif was due to be appearing in the same Tripoli courtroom as well, but despite demands from the Ministry of Justice, he has not been brought from Zintan.”
- We have no certain knowledge as to when this film footage was taken.
- We do not have proof that Saif is currently in Zintan or that he is safe or alive.
- There are no records of recent visits from human rights organizations. Several official human rights groups have made repeated attempts to visit Saif and were turned away.
- Saif has not had freedom to choose his own legal counsel.
- Saif’s ICC-appointed legal representative was never granted access to his client.
- Saif has made it abundantly clear he did not wish to be tried in Libya because there was no functioning government or judicial system that would guarantee him a fair trial.
- Saif has never had contact with his family or friends.
On the second anniversary of the martyrdom of her husband and son, Safia Farkash asked for immediate intervention on behalf of Saif al-Islam:
“I demand that the world community should help me to come in touch with my son Saif al-Islam, who has been isolated from all members of our family from the moment of his arrest. Saif’s only “crime” is that he has warned that this revolution can only lead Libya to a chaos – which is something that we are witnessing now.”
“Saif al-Islam has always been concerned about the situation with human rights in Libya. He has taken many former radical Islamists from American and European prisons and persuaded them to become law-abiding citizens. Many of them have promised him that they would never come back to terrorist activities. But now, some of the people whom Saif has saved from prison are demanding that he should be executed.”
In an interview following her release from prison and subsequent abduction, Anoud Senussi “denounced the International Criminal Court’s decision allowing the Libyan government to put her father on trial…and…demanded that the international community 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.”
Her comments reveal the extent of Libya’s alarming descent into rampant, violent chaos.
“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.”
As for the regime’s willingness to abide by the rule of law and respect human rights, she said,
“…why aren’t the Red Cross or even the lawyers allowed to peruse my father’s file and the charges against him?”
Regarding the torture of her father and threats to potential witnesses she added,
“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.”
She revealed how the regime used her abduction as psychological torture in an attempt to coerce her father to admit to crimes he did not commit.
“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.”
I have stated in a previous article,
“There are over 14,000 political prisoners in Libya. Many are being detained as part of a racist pogrom and campaign of genocide of Libyans with black skin.
This document from the Cairo Institute of Human Rights (Ongoing Human Rights Situation in Libya) outlines the criminal violations of the current regime which include collective punishment, (See Bani Walid), denial of freedom of religion, expression and assembly, (See Arrests and Torture of Christians Continues in Libya; Torture, Murder and Imprisonment of Christians in Libya ; Islamists Destroy Sufi Shrine. GNC Implicated in Desecrations.) abuse of foreign nationals, refugees and migrants and the torture of prisoners. (See: Libya holding African migrants and prevent them from reaching Europe | Libyan gunfire caused boat tragedy)
This is not a government that is willing to conduct fair trials. This regime will never respect human rights or the rule of law. Its actions over the past two years are adequate testament to its character and agenda.”
If there is to be any intervention to save the lives of Libya’s political prisoners, it must be now.