Journalists (unseen) watch the televised proceedings as judges (top right) question Seif al-Islam (centre) in the western Libyan city of Zintan. Picture: Mahmud Turkia

Tripoli - The trial of the son of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and 36 others was adjourned to later this month after Seif al-Islam's lawyer, appointed by the government, failed to turn up to the session, lawyers and the official news agency reported on Sunday.

The session in Tripoli was linked by video conferencing to the city of Zintan, where the junior Gaddafi is held. Eight other defendants also appeared by video link from the city of Misrata. The official news agency LANA said only 31 defendants attended the trial.

Defence lawyer Ibrahim Abu-Ayesha said the brief session was adjourned after the judge found that the lawyer assigned to Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, Samiha al-Kasseh, failed to appear at the session, the third since the trial opened. It was not clear why the lawyer failed to show up. When asked if he had any requests, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi responded briefly by saying: “Just your good health,” a polite expression to indicate that he wants nothing.

The judge also gave the lawyers permission to review the case documents.

The 37 defendants face a variety of charges mainly relating to the killing of protesters during the 2011 civil war that led to Gaddafi's ouster. Charges include recruiting mercenaries, who were given Libyan nationality, planning and carrying out attacks on civilian targets from the air, forming armed groups, and shooting into crowds of demonstrators, among others. The last prime minister under Gaddafi, Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, and his notorious spymaster Abdullah al-Senoussi are also on trial.

Journalists were not allowed to enter the courtroom and watched the proceedings over three screens in an adjacent room.

The trial was adjourned for May 25. - Sapa-AP