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Gaddafi's son Seif sentenced to death in Libya

Seif al-Islam Gaddafi has only appeared in the Tripoli court via video link [AFP].

Date of publication: 28 July, 2015

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Seif al-Islam and Gaddafi era officials were sentenced to death inby a court in Tripoli on Tuesday following a trial described by Amnesty International as 'flawed'.

A Libyan court sentenced slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam and eight other defendants to death on Tuesday for crimes during the 2011 revolution.

Former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi and Gaddafi's last prime minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi were also among those sentenced to death.

The trial, which opened in the Libyan capital Tripoli in April last year, has been dogged by criticism from human rights watchdogs and an unresolved dispute with the International Criminal Court in The Hague over jurisdiction in Seif al-Islam's case.

Seif al-Islam is being held in Libya's western city of Zintan, with the local militia there refusing to hand him over to the capital.

Seif al-Islam's sole appearances before the court have been by video link and there have been none since May last year.

Most of the 37 defendants, charged with crimes including murder and complicity in incitement to rape during the 2011 revolution that toppled the former regime, are held in the capital, but some are held in Libya's third city Misrata which is loyal to the Tripoli authorities.

The militia holding Seif al-Islam is loyal to the internationally-recognised government in the remote eastern town of Tobruk, where it fled to last August.

The UN Security Council referred the conflict in Libya to the ICC in February 2011 amid Gaddafi's repression of the popular uprising against his decades-old regime at the height of the Arab Spring.

Seif al-Islam is wanted by the Hague-based court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

ICC prosecutors say that as part of his father's "inner circle", he "conceived and orchestrated a plan to deter and quell, by all means, the civilian demonstrations against Gaddafi's regime".

He has been held in Zintan since his capture in November 2011 despite repeated ICC demands for Libya to hand him over for trial.

Charges before the Tripoli court included kidnapping, plunder, sabotage and embezzlement of public funds.

Human rights groups have expressed concerns about the trial, criticising the fact that the accused have had only limited access to lawyers and key documents.

'Flawed trial' 

London based rights group, Amnesty International criticised the trial which it said was marred by serious flaws that “highlight Libya’s inability to administer justice effectively in line with international fair trial standards.”     

“Instead of helping to establish the truth and ensuring accountability for serious violations during the 2011 armed conflict, this trial exposes the weakness of a criminal justice system which is hanging on by a thread in a war-torn country with no central authority,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International. 

“It’s a case that was always going to test the judiciary, but in the end it has shown the difficulties of delivering justice at a time when the rule of the gun overpowers the rule of law. 

“The death sentences – the ultimate human rights violation – add further insult to injury, and should be overturned on appeal.”  
 
Benghazi fighting plunges city into darkness

Meanwhile, Benghazi, the birthplace of the Libyan revolution, was plunged into darkness as clashes between pro-government forces and Islamist fighters have knocked out three of five power stations serving the city, the country's second largest, officials said on Monday.

Power has been off for 16 hours a day in the port city where forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government have been fighting Islamist groups for 15 months in a battle that has turned parts of Benghazi into ruins.

A spokesman at state power firm GECOL in Benghazi said output at the gas-fired main power plant was still stable at 650 megawatts on average a day, but three sub-stations distributing electricity inside the city had been damaged.

He said ongoing fighting made it impossible to reach the damaged stations, adding that the state power firm was running out of spare parts. A turbine needed to be repaired but a German firm that used to do the maintenance work had pulled out and was refusing to send any engineers to Benghazi.

The closure of the city's port due to the fighting also made it difficult to import spare parts, he said, asking not to be named.

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