HRW: Mistake to try Saif al-Islam at home

Sept. 19, 2013 at 11:04 AM

BRUSSELS, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Libya's decision to try Moammar Gadhafi's son at home suggests Tripoli isn't serious about cooperating with the international community, a rights group said.

A case against Saif al-Islam, the late colonel's son, and former intelligence director Abdullah al-Senussi got under way Thursday in a court in Tripoli. Both men are accused of committing crimes against humanity during Libya's civil war in 2011.

Tarek Mitri, U.N. special envoy for Libya, reported to the Security Council this week the security situation in Libya presents "a formidable challenge" to judicial authorities.

Richard Dicker, international justice director for Human Rights Watch, said Libya showed a lack of judgment in its decision to try the Saif al-Islam's case at home.

"Libya assured the U.N. Security Council it would cooperate with the court, and it needs to turn Saif Gadhafi over to The Hague without any more delay," he said in a statement Thursday from Brussels.

An appeals chamber at the International Criminal Court in July rejected a Libyan request to suspend the surrender of Gadhafi to the court. The ICC said it "was not convinced" by Libya's assertions his surrender would create problems for the government.

Libyan authorities say they have the right to try the cases in their own courts, provided the national judicial system was open and functioning.

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