The trial of the son of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi did not meet international standards and he should be brought in front of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the United Nations said today.
Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, sentenced to death in absentia, is being held in the Libyan city of Zintan by one of the factions fighting for power since Gaddafi was killed in 2011.
“The Libyan Government has been unable to secure the arrest and surrender of [Gaddafi], who remains in Zintan and is considered to be outside the control of the internationally-recognised Libyan authorities,” the UN report said.
He was sentenced to death for war crimes in July 2015 by a Tripoli court but Zintani forces have refused to hand him over to the Tripoli authorities fearing he would escape.
According to the UN report, initiated by the UN human rights office and UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), serious violations of due process where recorded in the trials of Saif Al-Islam and 36 other defendants, these include prolonged incommunicado detention without access to families or lawyers and cases of alleged torture that have not been investigated.
A missed opportunity
The report further explained that the proceedings “fell short of international norms and standards for fair trial and also breached Libyan law in some respects. During court cases, no prosecution witnesses were called to testify in court further undermining the defendants’ ability to challenge evidence against them.”
“This trial was a missed opportunity for justice,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.
Saif Al-Islam is among nine defendants sentenced to death by firing squad. He served as an intelligence chief to Abdullah Al-Senussi and former Prime Minister Baghdadi Ali Mahmudi.
The report also urged Libyan authorities to reform its criminal justice system following the trial’s “major flaws”.
Libya’s Court of Cassation is to set to review the procedures in the case but not the facts and evidence. “As such the review does not constitute a full appeal as required by international standards,” the UN report said.
The UN has called on Libyan authorities to ensure Saif Al-Islam is given to the Hague-based ICC, “in compliance with Libya’s international obligations” where it is unlikely he will face the death penalty which is not recognised by the ICC.
“The [ICC] Prosecutor continues to seek the surrender of [Said Al-Islam] to the Libyan authorities in order to proceed with his case,” it said.