Al-Islam ‘cannot get fair trial in Libya’

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IOL pic aug1 libya saif al-islam Reuters (File image) Saif al-Islam

Amsterdam - Slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam cannot get a fair trial in Libya and he claims if he is executed it would be tantamount to murder, his defence lawyers said on Tuesday in a filing to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“I am not afraid to die but if you execute me after such a trial you should just call it murder and be done with it,” Saif al-Islam said, according to his lawyers, referring to a possible trial in Libya, where he is being detained by tribesmen.

An ICC defence lawyer and three other staff were detained by local authorities in Libya's western mountain city of Zintan in June after meeting Saif al-Islam, prompting frantic attempts to secure their release.

During that June meeting, Saif al-Islam's court-appointed lawyer was prevented from taking a sworn statement by an official who had been posing as an illiterate guard, they said.

“The 'guard', who is actually Mr Ahmed Amer - a councillor who speaks several languages - was planted in the room to deliberately trick the delegation,” the filing said.

“He came back into the room and (in the presence of the ICC interpreter), started shouting that this statement was very dangerous, violated Libyan national security, and that the defence could not have it back.”

British-educated Saif al-Islam is wanted by the ICC for allegedly ordering terror and killings during the two-week uprising that brought down his father. Libya wants to try Saif al-Islam in its own courts and is resisting attempts to transfer him to The Hague.

Lawyers said their meeting with Saif al-Islam was cut short after 45 minutes, and that the guard confiscated documents they needed to consult with him about, including his sworn statement.

Melinda Taylor, Saif al-Islam's court-appointed lawyer, her Lebanese interpreter, and two other staff, from Russia and Spain, were held for 26 days after the meeting.

“The sole rationale for doing so appears to be that the Libyan authorities consider it to be illegal, treason, or a violation of national security for either Mr Gaddafi or his counsel to indicate that Mr Gaddafi does not wish to be tried before Libyan courts,” the lawyers said in the filing.

Zintan authorities accused Taylor and her Lebanese interpreter of endangering national security by bringing sensitive documents to Saif al-Islam, a charge they deny.

The defence team accused the Libyans of using their detention to influence the outcome of the Libyan elections. - Reuters

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