Tripoli, 15 April:
Supporters of Saif al-Islam will try to help him escape should he be taken to Tripoli for trial, according to . . .[restrict]the spokesman of the Zintan Local Council, Khaled Al-Zintani. Therefore, he said, Qaddafi’s son should remain in Zintan and be tried there.
Al-Zintani also claimed that Saif possessed large reserves of money and supporters in the capital, adding that he did not believe that Libya’s weak central government was capable of ensuring his secure detention.
On Monday, NTC spokesman Mohammed Al-Hareizi announced that Saif was to be transferred to the capital within 10 days, whereupon “he will be tried for rape, murder, corruption and we expect him to be tried and a verdict rendered before the upcoming elections in mid-June.”
A successful trial in Tripoli would mark a step forward for the NTC which has been struggling to run the country under its authority since Muammar Qaddafi’s capture and killing last year.
The location of Saif’s trial has been fiercely debated in recent weeks, with his ICC-appointed defence team demanding that Libya hand him over for trial at The Hague. The week before last, Saif’s lawyers claimed that he had been “physically attacked” and kept in “total isolation” since his capture by Zintani militamen last November, adding that he would not receive a fair trial inside Libya.
The Libyan government has repeatedly countered such accusations by insisting that Saif should be tried in Libya, and that he will receive a fair trial.
The ICC’s chief prosecutor, José Louis Moreno-Ocampo, has not ruled out the possibility of the ICC agreeing to Libya proceeding with its case, so long as any trial complies with ICC standards.
This latest intervention by Saif’s Zintani captors has only further complicated matters, and NTC officials have been quick to condemn it.
“This is an obstacle which the government is working hard to overcome in order to prove to the world that Libya can give Saif al-Islam a fair trial in accordance with international standards”, said Ahmed Aljehani, the lawyer appointed by the Libyan authorities to supervise the case.
Aljehani said that the Libyan government was trying to reach a compromise with the Zintanis, reminding them that they wer not serving Libya’s interests by refusing to hand Saif over for trial. Aljehani emphasised that he was trying to convince the Zintanis that they fought last year’s revolution not in the name of Zintan but in the name of all Libya, and that the trial of Saif al-Islam, which has enormous symbolic significance, should reflect that fact.