Libya is standing firm on trying Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, once the heir apparent to his father’s rule. But so is the International Criminal Court at The Hague, which indicted him in June for crimes against humanity stemming from the crackdown on last year’s revolt.
Today, Libya will outline to the court’ s judges how it intends to try Saif al-Islam. If the court concludes that Libya cannot or will not try him, and is not cooperating with its own case, it can refer Tripoli to the UN Security Council.
Pressure is mounting on Tripoli to hand Saif al-Islam to the court as human rights groups question whether its justice system can meet the standards of international law. Libya has filed several appeals for more time to make its case against Saif al-Islam.
Five months after he was captured in the Sahara desert dressed as a Bedouin tribesman, Saif al-Islam remains in the mountain town of Zintan in the hands of the militiamen who captured him, ostensibly to keep him from harm until Libya’s new rulers can organise a trial.
But the ad hoc nature of his detention and the authorities’ failure to take custody of him highlight how little control the interim government has over the country. In essence, the tug-of-war over where Saif al-Islam will stand trial is an argument about whether Libya has the attributes of a functioning state, including a proper justice system. His captors say it is up to them, not Tripoli, to decide when to give him up.
“It’s not known when he will be moved to Tripoli, it is our decision,” a source close to his captors said. “We’re waiting for when it will be calm and that’s not certain now.”
The ruling National Transitional Council has little recourse. Last week it sent a delegation to negotiate with the militiamen, whom officials say have demanded payment for their efforts. The delegation