ICC says Libya can try Gaddafi spy chief

2013-10-11 16:10
Ex head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi. (STR, AFP File)

Ex head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi. (STR, AFP File)

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The Hague - The International Criminal Court on Friday ruled that Libya can try slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s former spy chief, having previously demanded he be handed over to The Hague.

Because Abdallah al-Senussi is being tried in Libya, ICC judges "concluded that the case is inadmissible before the court, in accordance with the principle of complementarity", it said.

The ICC stressed that the Senussi decision had no bearing on the case against Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, who is still wanted in The Hague.

Gaddafi’s former heir apparent and others including Senussi are accused of crimes during the revolt against Gaddafi two years ago.

Judges ruled that "the case against Senussi is currently subject to domestic proceedings conducted by the Libyan competent authorities and that Libya is willing and able genuinely to carry out such investigation".

The ICC's founding document, the Rome Statute, says that the ICC cannot carry out proceedings against a suspect if they are receiving a fair trial on similar charges in a domestic court.

The court said the decision could be appealed if it appeared Senussi was not getting a free trial.

The pre-trial chamber "found that the evidence submitted by Libya is sufficient to conclude that the Libyan and the ICC investigations cover the same case and that concrete and progressive steps are being undertaken by the domestic authorities in the proceedings against Senussi".

It also took into account the fact that Senussi is detained by Libyan state authorities, the quality of the evidence against him in the domestic case, and "efforts made to resolve certain issues in the justice system by recourse to international assistance".

National criminal justice systems

A Tripoli court is to decide on 24 October whether to indict Saif al-Islam and Senussi, among 20 senior figures from Gaddafi’s regime charged with killing protesters during the 2011 revolt that toppled him.

However, Saif remains in the hands of rebels in the western Libya town of Zintan, who have refused to hand him over to Tripoli authorities.

"The ICC is a court of last resort, it does not replace national criminal justice systems, rather it compliments them," ICC spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah said in a video statement.

"It can investigate and where warranted prosecute and try individuals only if the state concerned does not, cannot or is unable genuinely to do so," he said.

Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed by rebels in his hometown of Sirte after an eight-month revolt against his four-decade rule backed by Nato air strikes.

Saif appeared before a Zintan court last month, which adjourned a separate trial until 12 December.

Rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had both urged the immediate handover of Saif and Senussi to the ICC to face war crimes charges.

Family members of those killed in the Abu Selim prison massacre of 1996 - allegedly ordered by Senussi - demonstrated outside the courtroom holding up pictures of those killed.

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