Libya puts Gaddafi loyalists on trial
Benghazi - Libya put 41 loyalists of dead dictator Muammar Gaddafi on trial on Sunday, in the first legal proceedings launched against members of the former regime which was ousted after a bloody conflict.
The accused, mostly civilians, appeared in a military court in the eastern city of Benghazi, the birthplace of the uprising against Kadhafi which ended on October 20 with his killing in his home town of Sirte.
"It is the first trial concerning the February 17 revolution," judge Colonel Ali al-Hamida said at the start of the proceedings, referring to the day when the anti-Gaddafi conflict erupted last year in Benghazi.
The 41, all men, are accused of supporting the Gaddafi regime in its attempts to crush the popular revolt, as well as helping prisoners to escape and of setting up "criminal gangs".
An AFP correspondent attending the proceedings said the first session of the trial was held under tight security.
The 15-lawyer defence team for the accused contested the proceedings, saying most of the accused are civilians but are being prosecuted in a military court.