Jan Hennop, AFP
Last updated: 25 November, 2011

ICC trial for Seif al-Islam could be in Libya

The trial of deposed Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam could be held in Libya under the auspices of the International Criminal Court, the ICC’s chief prosecutor said on Friday.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo also proposed two other options to put Seif in the dock for crimes against humanity in the attempt to put down Libya’s popular revolt, sparked in mid-February.

“The prosecutor proposed as a third possibility that the ICC might, subject to judges’ approval, conduct the trial against Seif al-Islam in Libya,” Moreno-Ocampo said in a document submitted to the Hague-based court.

“This process could start with a first appearance and subsequently with a confirmation of charges on Libyan territory,” he said, adding that Tripoli “did not rule out that option, but also did not endorse or accept it.”

Moreno-Ocampo also proposed two other options, namely Libya asking the ICC to decide whether a Libyan court could prosecute Seif, or Libyan courts trying Seif for other crimes, for which he is wanted in Libya, with the ICC prosecuting him on separate charges of crimes against humanity.

But the Argentinian prosecutor said should ICC judges decide in favour of Libya trying Seif, it was “not within the mandate of the office of the prosecutor to serve as an advisor or to monitor a domestic trial.”

The ICC’s own mandate says it can only prosecute those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes if a state’s national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute them.

Moreno-Ocampo’s report to ICC judges follows a visit to Tripoli this week to meet Libyan authorities for talks on jurisdiction in the case.

Upon arrival in the north African country on Tuesday, Moreno-Ocampo said he met senior Libyan justice officials who told him Seif, 39, had not asked to see him.

“The prosecutor accordingly declined to meet with the detainee without a request… and the presence of his lawyer,” Moreno-Ocampo’s submission said, adding that he was assured that Seif “was in good health and that the conditions of detention were appropriate.”

Moreno-Ocampo said he met Libya’s general prosecutor who told him some five other charges of embezzlement under investigation against Seif “were in an advanced stage”.

Moamer Kadhafi’s one-time heir apparent, Seif, was nabbed almost a week ago in Libya’s southern Saharan region after three months on the run.

He and Kadhafi’s former spymaster, Abdullah al-Senussi, 62, are wanted on ICC arrest warrants issued on June 27.

Libya’s National Transitional Council sent a letter to ICC judges Wednesday staking a claim to Seif, saying Tripoli was willing and able to try him before a Libyan court.

The ICC in return said its judges had “exclusive competence” to decide where and how Seif will be prosecuted, but Moreno-Ocampo said Libya had every right to try him and he could even give Tripoli the fruits of the investigation so far.

Libyan authorities earlier said both Seif and Senussi would be given a fair trial in accordance with international legal standards.

But doubts are growing whether Senussi had indeed been captured, with Moreno-Ocampo being told Libyan authorities “could not confirm the capture of Abdullah al-Senussi.”

Video footage of Seif’s arrest was widely circulated but there have been no pictures of Senussi following his reported arrest a day later.