By Ashraf Abdul-Wahab and George Grant.
Tripoli, 1 September:
Justice Minister Ali Ashour Ehmida has denied reports that the trial of Saif Qaddafi will begin today in Zintan.
“It is not true”, the minister told the Libya Herald. “We have already said it will be in the second half of September”.
The report that Saif’s trial was starting today initially appeared on Al-Arabiya and has already been picked up by several international news organisations.
Ehmida added that no decision had been made at all on the location of the trial. “The High Judiciary Commission and the attorney-general are responsible for choosing the location of the trial”, he said.
Over the past fortnight there has been considerable confusion over the date and location of the Saif trial, and the question of whether or not the International Criminal Court will be involved.
Senior political speakers including National Congress Speaker Mohammed Magarief and Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur have both said that no decision has been made even on the date of the trial.
It is understood that no agreement has yet been reached with Saif’s captors in Zintan on the matter, which has led many people to question the likelihood of a trial taking place even in the second half of this month.
Reports of an imminent trial are also known to have generated concern at the ICC. The court, which has a warrant for Saif’s arrest on charges of Crimes Against Humanity, has previously requested that he be extradited to The Hague.
The ICC is also midway through considering a challenge by the Libyan government regarding the admissibility of its case, which any trial in the next few weeks would almost certainly pre-empt.