By Alexandra Valiente
The Tripoli Court of Appeals postponed Saadi Gaddafi’s hearing until February 7, 2016. Today’s session lasted only a few moments, while Saadi’s lawyer convinced the judge that he needed more time to review evidence and prepare his client’s defense.
A Human Rights Watch report issued in late October stated,
…three former officials [Abdullah Al Senussi, Abu Zaid Dorda, Badghdadi Al Mahmoudi] alleged serious due process violations similar to those [Saadi] Gaddafi raised, including lack of private access to lawyers, inability to call or question witnesses, court authorities’ refusal to allow the defendants to speak during trial proceedings, and intimidation of their lawyers by armed groups.
Saadi also told Human Rights Watch that he had been tortured and held in solitary confinement since his extradition from Niger in March, 2014.
The report added that,
The Prosecutor’s Office said that three sessions of his trial have been held and that the next session is scheduled for the first of November. Gaddafi also said authorities had refused his request for private meetings with his lawyers without guards present, citing “security concerns.”
He said that his defense witnesses were subjected to “huge pressures” and were intimidated about coming forward and speaking on his behalf for fear of reprisals, especially given the absence of a witness protection program. He said lawyers were not present during any of the interrogation sessions, where, he alleged, prosecution officials had intimidated and threatened him and other witnesses.
Human Rights Watch concluded,
“The Supreme Court needs to address the many allegations of grave due process violations by the defendants and their lawyers when it considers the appeals of the verdicts against the former officials,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Director. “The assize court needs to ensure that al-Saadi Gaddafi is granted his full rights.”
In August, after viewing videos of the torture of Saadi Gaddafi (Third Video of the Illegal Interrogation of Saadi Gaddafi by Da’esh | More Video Leaked of Saadi Gaddafi’s Interrogation by Da’esh) Safia Farkash called upon the Libyan government to take all necessary steps to ensure her son’s protection. (Statement by Safia Farkash on the Torture of Her Son, Saadi Gaddafi)
This weekend, at a meeting held in Tunis, the internationally recognized government based in Tobruk (HoR) signed an agreement with Tripoli’s GNC to establish a national unity government within the next two weeks.
Previously, the Libyan Ministry of justice stated that they would not intervene in concerns regarding detention centers in the East of Libya because they fell outside state jurisdiction. Yet, at that time, Human Rights Watch revealed that there were widespread torture and violations taking place in detention facilities under state control.
It remains to be seen whether the changing political landscape and the establishment of a unified government will have any impact on the flagrant denial of human rights prevalent throughout Libya as exemplified by the case of Saadi Gaddafi.