Ajar trial adjourned in Tripoli

15 April 2014 by Christopher Stephen, Tripoli (Libya)

In the biggest trial in Libya since the 2011 revolution, only 23 of the 37 accused were present at the Tripoli Appeal Court hearings in Al Hadba prison, for the start on Monday April 14.

Al-Senussi sat on the front right of two rows of defendants, dressed in pale blue shirts and trousers, arranged behind a black steel cage. He looked thin and tired, a contrast to his usually rugged physique, but neither he nor the other defendants displayed signs of any physical abuse. Security was tight in the courtroom, an ochre-coloured building within a large prison complex with a large presence of militias and armed police. The few journalists allowed into the opening of the trial were asked to surrender their mobile phones and their pens, being handed ballpoint pens by court officials in exchange. Al-Senussi, Gaddafi's former spy chief told the court he had only just secured a lawyer. Five days ago I signed a paper with a defence lawyer.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was due to appear via video link after militia in the mountain town of Zintan refused to hand him to Tripoli. But the TV monitor showed only an empty courtroom until a militiaman appeared on screen to switch it off without explanation.

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