Libya court sentences Qaddafi son to death

A court in Tripoli sentenced Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, son of former Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi, and eight others to death for war crimes dating back to the 2011 revolution. Twenty-three other defendants were handed sentences ranging from five years to life in prison. The sentence for Saif al-Islam was handed down in absentia, as he is currently detained by a militia in the city of Zintan. Saif al-Islam and others were accused of suppressing peaceful protests, inciting violence, and murdering protesters. The sentences have been criticized by many international advocacy groups, including Human Rights Watch, which stated the trial was "undermined by serious due process violations" and failed to deliver justice.

Libya remains politically unstable four years after the 2011 uprising and subsequent civil war that deposed Qaddafi. In December the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Support Mission in Libya released a joint report describing civilian populations in Libya being subject to shelling, abduction, torture, execution and deliberate destruction of property. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein attributed the potential war crimes to a feud between two rival Libyan governments and several militia groups. In November Chief Prosecutor for the ICC Fatou Bensouda warned that increasing violence and political instability in Libya are impeding measures to end impunity. Amnesty International released a report last October accusing rival militias in Libya of committing serious human rights abuses, including war crimes.

From Jurist, July 29. Used with permission.

Note: Al-Hadba Corrections Facility, where Saif al-Islam Qaddafi's trial took place, is under the control of forces allied with the Libya Dawn militia coalition that backs the self-declared authority in Tripoli and opposes the internationally recognized government based in Tobruk. (HRW)