Libyan prosecutors announced Thursday that Saif al-Islam, the son of former leader Col. Moammar Qadhafi, would go on trial in the North African nation in September, as the investigation into the alleged crimes committed by the defendant has been completed.
According to the announcement, Saif will go on trial in the western Libyan town of Zintan, where he has been under detention after being captured by rebel forces last November. He is accused of planing with his slain father to use "any means necessary" to suppress last year's Libyan revolution.
"A committee from the prosecutor general's office has completed its investigation into the crimes committed by Saif al-Islam from the start of the revolution on February 15 (2011) and has prepared the charge sheet," the prosecutor general's spokesman, Taha Nasser Baara, said while announcing the trial date.
Baara said the charges would be "approved by the prosecutor general in the coming days and a date set for the September trial opening." He stressed that there had been "no intervention" by the International Criminal Court in the Libyan investigation into Saif's crimes and added that Libyan prosecutors had "solid proof" to try the accused.
The ICC was established in 2002 as the world's first permanent war crimes court to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. It is authorized to try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002.
In June 2011, the Hague-based ICC had issued arrest warrants for Col. Qadhafi, Saif and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi for atrocities committed by pro-Qadhafi forces after the armed revolt against their autocratic regime broke out in February.
The ICC wants to try Saif in connection with his role in attacks on protesters and rebels during Libya's pro-democracy uprising last year, but the Libyans have insisted that he should be tried in the north African nation itself. Notably, the ICC says that that legal proceedings on the admissibility of its own case are still pending.
The autocratic regime of Col. Moammar Qadhafi was ousted in a NATO-backed armed rebellion in August 2011. Qadhafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years with an iron fist, was shot dead on October 20, 2011, by revolutionary fighters on the outskirts of his hometown Sirte.
Subsequently, Saif was captured in Libya's southern desert in November 2011 by the rebel forces. He had been on the run after forces loyal to the National Transitional Council, the leadership of the rebels, took Tripoli in August.
The international community remains concerned whether Saif would receive a fair trial in Libya despite repeated assurances by authorities there. Rights activists fear that Saif could be handed down the death penalty if he is tried in Libya.
Saif has said that he wants to be tried at the ICC. Last month his lawyers quoted Saif as saying: "I am not afraid to die but if you execute me after such a trial [in Libya] you should just call it murder and be done with it."
by RTT Staff Writer
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