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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Where should Libya's Saif Qaddafi be tried?

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This question has been one of the chief controversies whirling around the Libyan situation ever since Saif al-Islam Qaddafi was captured and his father killed in the final days of the Mummar Qaddafi regime. Saif al-Islam Qaddafi was the child politically closest to the father and was being groomed as his successor. He was Mummar Qaddafi's second in command and is believed to have run the day-to-day operations of the regime both before and during the revolutionary struggle. With Mummar Qaddafi dead, he becomes the highest official from the Qaddafi regime that can be held to accounts.

He was captured by the Zintan Brigade in the last days of the falling regime and has been held by them ever since. Since the circumstances of his father's death are still unclear and there is good reason to believe he was murdered while in custody, many have feared for Saif's safety in the hands of one of Libya's many revolutionary brigades, however he has been held now for 5 months while waiting trial in Libya and is reportedly still in good health.

The International Criminal Court has also brought charges against Saif Qaddafi the they have insisted that he be transferred to the Hague for trial by the ICC. They have argued, as have the many critics of the Libyan revolution and the National Transitional Council, that Saif al-Islam Qaddafi simply can't get a fair trial in Libya. They argue, as in the LA Times article I cliqued yesterday that Libya [is] now ruled by the law of retribution and must be transferred to the Hague immediately to insure both his safety and a fair trial.

This struggle over Saif al-Islam Qaddafi between the Libyans and the ICC has been a very public one with the Zintan brigade adamantly hanging on to their catch, reluctant even to hand him over the Libyan government and the Libyan government adamantly demanding that he be tried in Libya ahead of any international tribunal.

While the US government, which itself doesn't recognize the authority of the ICC, has come out in support of the Libyan position and even the ICC has been forced to admit that by its own guidelines the national courts take precedence, most commentators in the Main Stream Media and co-incidentally among the anti-interventionists turned counter-revolutionaries, has been that because of the chaos in Libya, because many are seeking revenge, for his own safety, Saif Qaddafi should be transfered to the Hague ASAP.

This whole controversy came to ahead last week after Libyan authorities detained four of the ICC staff meeting with Saif Qaddafi. According to Reuters:
A four-member ICC delegation has been detained in the western mountain town of Zintan after one of its lawyers, Australian Melinda Taylor, was found to be carrying documents regarded as suspicious, for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a Libyan lawyer and a militia said on Saturday.

"The order has been given to put them in detention for 45 days," Taha Baara of the prosecutor-general's office said.

Libyan officials say Taylor and her female interpreter, as well as two male colleagues, are being held in a guesthouse in Zintan. An ICC team arrived in Tripoli on Sunday to try to secure their release.
The Reuthers piece also gives the specific reason they were detained:
A Libyan lawyer said the suspicious documents included letters from Saif al-Islam's former right-hand man Mohammed Ismail, as well as blank documents signed by the prisoner.
Now, if you have been following the news around this case even loosely, so far I haven't told you anything that you don't already know, and that's not why I wrote this dairy. I wrote this dairy because this morning I heard an interview with one of the leaders of the Zintan Bridage that is holding Saif Qaddafi. He spoke about why they are unwilling to give up their prize and he gave reasons that were new to me because they have not been raised either by the MSM or the anti-interventionists turned counter-revolutionaries in their extensive commentaries on this controversy.

They have serious fears about the safety of Saif al-Islam Qaddafi if he is transferred either to the NTC or the ICC:
"If we transfer Saif al-Islam out of Zintan, I am certain that he will be smuggled. Some want to sneak him out of the country and others want him killed. There are elements within the NTC that were involved in things to which Saif is the only witness so its in their interest to have him killed. There are also foreign elements from Britain and France with ties to the old regime and Saif is the only witness against them."
This is a view of the problem that I haven't seen considered before, either by the MSM or by the anti-interventionists turned counter-revolutionaries, and that is the reason for this diary.

When Saif al-Islam released the info about the Qaddafi campaign contributions to Sarkozy's campaign for the French presidency, that could have been a meant as a warning shot across the bow of all the imperialists outside of Libya and all the Qaddafi collaborators still in positions of power that they can't afford to have him stand trial in an open court in Libya.

So we must seriously consider how much of the hue and cry about getting Saif Qaddafi out of the hands of the Zintan Brigade and transfered to the Hague "for his safety", is based on justified concern for one Libyan dictator's son or a deep desire for "proper" international justice, and how much is motivated by a desire to keep imperial connections to the Libyan regime secret.

We must also consider whose interests the "left" commentators, anti-interventionists turned counter-revolutionaries, serve when they echo the demand that Saif Qaddafi be turned over to the ICC.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

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