Libya: fourth hearing for Gaddafi and al-Senussi

14 May 2014 by Christopher Stephen

A United Nations observer at Libya’s trial of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and the regime’s former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi [IJT-157] has been arrested by a militia, on Sunday in the capital city Tripoli, and accused of “black magic”. 

Photographs of the man’s identity card were posted on the internet, along with the accusation. The UN said he was later released without charge.

The detention came at the fourth sitting of a confusing case, with Libya also telling the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the trial in Tripoli has, in fact, not yet started. “The actual trial of Mr Gaddafi and Mr Al-Senussi is not being conducted at present,” said an 8 May filing to the ICC by the Libyan team, advised by Philippe Sands QC. This seemingly contradicts the 24 March statement by Libyan senior prosecutor Sidiq al Sour that the trial would commence on 14 April. The ICC, which charged al-Senussi and Saif al Islam in parallel with crimes against humanity, ruled last October that Libya was able to try al-Senussi. 

On their side, al-Senussi’s ICC-appointed lawyers, who have never met him, filed a motion last week to the ICC judges asking them to complain to the UN about the Libya trial.

“When those who are sent by the UN to monitor the trial are themselves arrested by militia, how can the international community expect those actually on trial to be treated fairly?” said Rod Dixon QC.

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
19 February 2007 by Laetitia Grotti

One year ago on January 6, 2006, the 17 members of Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) were closing up shop after submitting their final report to King Mohammed VI. The Moroccan truth commission had received a flood of compliments from the international community praising the recommendations in its report, especially those advocating legislative and constitutional reforms. One year later, however, the results have been rather mixed.

article
11 September 2006 by our correspondent in Arusha

After having tried high-ranking officers, ministers, businessmen, priests, journalists, local officials and militiamen, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is in uncharted waters. On September 11, the most famous rwandese troubadour of his generation will stand trial for genocide. 

article
23 October 2006 by Christine Chaumeau

China is keeping a polite distance from international criminal justice. Beijing is hardly disinterested, but China does want to make sure that these new global mechanisms are not going to infringe upon its sovereignty by delving into particularly sensitive cases such as Tibet. 

article
United Nations Operation in Burundi disarms rebel forces in Mbanda in February 2005 (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Martine Perret)
03 June 2015 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Over the last month, Burundi has hit the headlines as the president put himself forward to be elected for a controversial third term, resulting in street protests, thousands of refugees who fled instability and an attempted coup. Behind the issues of elections and constitutionalism are also those of justice following Burundi’s long-running civil war. The international community supported an intensive process of negotiation and the signing of the Arusha Accord in 2000. But in the decade and a half since, its provisions on justice have been debated though never fully implemented.

article
06 November 2006 by Pierre Hazan

France's attitude towards international criminal justice is marked by ambiguity. Paris subscribes to a vision of the world in which international humanitarian law is considered a way to curb violence against civilian populations, but at the same time it is wary of an unchecked judicial system that could end up prosecuting French soldiers engaged in areas where it has old and deep-rooted interests.