Monday, January 28, 2013

Libyan Rebels Deny Plans of Quick Trial and Execution of Intelligence Head Under Gaddafi

January 28, 2013

Libya Denies Plans of Quick Trial and Execution for Qaddafi Spy Chief

New York Times

PARIS — Lawyers for the Libyan rebel government on Monday said that Libya’s former intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, is expected to be tried by a civilian court in Libya in May at the earliest and will not face a summary trial and execution in the coming days as claimed by his defense lawyer.

In a filing to the International Criminal Court, where Mr. Senussi is wanted on charges of crimes against humanity, the lawyers said that the government was planning to put him on trial together with other senior officials of the former government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, including the colonel’s son Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi.

The international court had ordered Libya to report by Monday what its intentions were regarding Mr. Senussi.

The request by the court was issued last Thursday after Mr. Senussi’s court-appointed lawyer had sent urgent letters to the judges, and to the British Foreign Office, saying that his client had been tortured and would face a military court and swift execution in Libya.

As one of Colonel Qaddafi’s closest lieutenants for decades, Mr. Senussi has been a subject of great interest to American, British, French and Libyan investigators because he is believed to hold important information about the bombing of an American and a French passenger jet as well as many killings and disappearances in Libya.

A diplomat familiar with the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter, said that American and French investigators had been allowed to interrogate him in Mauritania, where he was arrested last year. Mauritania has since extradited him to Libya.

But Libya’s present rulers still appear to be divided about how to prosecute Mr. Senussi, one of the captives of the former government that was overthrown by the Libyan counter-revolution more than a year ago.

In their filing to the court on Monday, the lawyers dispelled any notion that Libya would hand him over to The Hague, where the court is based. But who will try him at home is apparently still in doubt. The Libyan filing said that although an earlier plan had called for Mr. Senussi him to be prosecuted in a military trial, “this no longer appears to be the case.” But, it added, “a final decision has yet to be made.”

The filing also said there was no chance of an imminent trial, let alone a “summary execution.” It said the defense had made “sensationalist claims without a shred of evidence.”

Ben Emmerson, who acts as Mr. Senussi’s court-appointed lawyer, said in an e-mail that a secret military trial was still possible.

“The position is quite simple,” Mr. Emmerson wrote. “Libya is obliged to hand Mr. al-Senussi to The Hague immediately. Instead, they ‘bought’ him for $200 million from Mauritania, and have held him hostage ever since.” Referring to the court, he added, “I would expect the I.C.C. to treat these submissions with the skepticism they deserve.”

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