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10 Jan, 2012 18:28

Saif Keeping: Is Libya prepared for the trial of Gaddafi’s son?

Saif al-Islam, the most prominent son of the country's late leader Colonel Gaddafi, is being held in the western town of Zintan. He has been charged by The Hague with crimes against humanity – but will the ICC ever see him in court?

World powers have urged the National Transitional Council (NTC) to extradite the prisoner to the International Criminal Court in Europe. The Hague tribunal wants to try Saif al-Islam for crimes against humanity. The new Libyan authorities, however, have pledged a home trial for the colonel's son in an attempt to establish its judiciary. The ICC had orginially given Libya until January 10th to decide whether – and when – it would surrender Saif al-Islam, and to give information about his mental and physical health. It also wanted Libya to answer concerns raised by activists that Saif al-Islam was being held incommunicado, without access to lawyers.Libya had asked for a three-week extension, citing security concerns. The haggling continued at The Hague, where the authorities agreed to only two weeks, citing procedural concerns. But while the two sides fuss over who keeps Saif, many are wondering whether either of the two is capable of giving him a fair trial. Sabah al-Mukhtar, president of the Arab Lawyers’ Association told RT that Libya’s judicial system is not prepared for a trial of such magnitude and significance. But extraditing him to The Hague is no guarantee his rights will be represented. “I’m not so certain that the Western powers, or indeed even the ICC, are really all that interested in human rights issues,” al-Mukhtar said. “Don’t forget, it’s the Western powers that destroyed Libya. It’s the Western powers and NATO that were hunting that man. They were going to kill him and suddenly they became all concerned about his human rights? It’s a little bit too tongue-in-cheek.”