Today’s convictions of more than 30 al-Gaddafi-era officials, including the imposition of nine death sentences, follow a trial marred with serious flaws that highlight Libya’s inability to administer justice effectively in line with international fair trial standards, Amnesty International said.
Among the nine people sentenced to death for war crimes and other offences during the 2011 armed conflict are Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, and the former Head of Military Intelligence, Abdallah al-Senussi. Twenty-three other former officials were given sentences ranging from life imprisonment to five years in prison, four people were acquitted, and one was referred for medical treatment and not sentenced.
“Instead of helping to establish the truth and ensuring accountability for serious violations during the 2011 armed conflict, this trial exposes the weakness of a criminal justice system which is hanging on by a thread in a war-torn country with no central authority,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.
Instead of helping to establish the truth and ensuring accountability for serious violations during the 2011 armed conflict, this trial exposes the weakness of a criminal justice system which is hanging on by a threadColm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.
“It’s a case that was always going to test the judiciary, but in the end it has shown the difficulties of delivering justice at a time when the rule of the gun overpowers the rule of law.
“The death sentences – the ultimate human rights violation – add further insult to injury, and should be overturned on appeal.”
It is expected the convictions will be appealed to the cassation chamber of Libya’s Supreme Court. The rights to a fair trial of those found guilty today require a full, independent and impartial review of the procedures and evidence used against them and the Supreme Court must address the serious allegations of fair trial and human rights violations in this case when it hears the appeal. To do this it must exercise its power to review both the evidence seen at the trial and the trial court’s interpretation of the law.
Amnesty International has long called for Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to be surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has an active arrest warrant in his name.
“The Libyan authorities refused to hand Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to the ICC to prove they could administer justice nationally. So far they have failed as he has been subjected to a string of violations. He was effectively tried and sentenced in absentia and continues to be held in isolation in a secret location without access to a lawyer,” said Colm O’Gorman.
“The only route to real justice for the victims of serious crimes perpetrated during the 2011 conflict is to surrender Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to the ICC and ensure fair trials for all detained al-Gaddafi loyalists.”