Libya’s internationally-recognized parliament in Tobruk approved a new law granting amnesty for crimes committed by Libyans since the 2011 uprising, in an apparent move to undermine a Tuesday court verdict in Tripoli sentencing Gaddadi-era officials to death and jail time.
Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, and eight of Gaddafi’s aides, are facing the firing squad after the ruling, which was handed down by a court in the capital, that is currently controlled by rival administration Libya Dawn. The rest of the 37 defendants, all Gaddafi-era figures, were either acquitted or handed between five years and life in prison. They stood trial on slew of charges, including war crimes, inciting murder, rape, deliberately killing peaceful demonstrators and corruption before and during the 2011 NATO-backed revolt.
On Tuesday the country’s elected legislature the House of Representatives – that currently operates in the eastern city of Tobruk – voted overwhelmingly to push through the amnesty legislation, that lists several exclusions.
The international community and the Libyan authorities – forced out of the capital by Dawn last summer – denounced the Tripoli sentencing, saying that proper legal standards had not been met and the judges were acting under duress from Dawn fighters. The lawyers – who have been threatened at gunpoint – were barred from accessing their clients or the case files. The defendants complained of torture, including poisoning, in detention.
The timing of Tuesday’s new law implied it was in part a response to the hearing during which all but four of the defendants were found guilty. The Libyan government has repeatedly stressed the need to separate Gaddafi-era officials who have not committed serious crimes from those that have.
The new law grants amnesty to all but those accused of war crimes, terrorism, murder, kidnapping, torture, trafficking, rape, smuggling or corruption. It is unlikely the legislation would be used to free Saif al-Islam, who was tried for war crimes.