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Africa

Trial of Gaddafi regime officials to resume April 27

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-14

The trial of several top figures from the regime of former leader Muammar Gaddafi – including two of his sons – was adjourned until April 27 after it briefly opened on Monday in the capital, Tripoli.

The men face charges ranging from corruption to war crimes committed during the 2011 uprising, which expanded into a civil war that eventually ousted Gaddafi. The former Libyan leader was killed shortly after his capture.

The trial was postponed on Monday to give lawyers more time to prepare their cases. However, the court said it would allow Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam, held by a militia in the country's west, to appear for future trial hearings via video link. It judged that transferring him to Tripoli would pose a security risk.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) and other human rights organisations have voiced their doubts over whether the Libyan judiciary can guarantee fair trials for former officials from the Gaddafi regime.

Highlighting the lawlessness of post-Gaddafi era, interim premier Abdullah al-Thani announced Sunday that he was resigning after he and his family were targeted in an armed attack, less than a week after parliament asked him to form a new cabinet.

Libya has struggled to contain the militias of former rebels who helped overthrow Gaddafi but have since refused to disarm and submit to the authority of the central government in Tripoli.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Gaddafi's son and his erstwhile heir apparent, will stand trial along with 30 others, including former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi and Gaddafi's last premier, Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi.

Saadi Gadafi, another of the slain dictator's sons, who was extradited from Niger last month, is to appear in the same case.

The charges against Gaddafi's sons and his aides include murder, kidnapping, complicity in incitement to rape, plunder, sabotage, embezzlement of public funds and acts harmful to national unity.

The group was charged in October and the trial was originally due to open on March 24, but it was postponed because some of the defendants were absent, among them Saif, who is being held in the western town of Zintan.

Saif has been held in Zintan since he was arrested by rebels in November 2011. The central authorities in Tripoli have tried without success to negotiate his transfer to the capital.

Saif and former spy chief Senussi are wanted by the ICC on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the uprising.

The ICC rejected Tripoli's request to try him in Libya in May because of doubts over the possibility of his having a fair trial. Tripoli has appealed the decision.

But the ICC gave Tripoli the go-ahead to try Senussi inside the country in October.

Human Rights Watch has called on the Libyan authorities to provide proper defence counsel to Seif and his co-defendants.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-04-14

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