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.

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