By Michel Cousins.
Zintan, 2 May 2013:
Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi made a second court appearance in Zintan this morning, in relation to charges of trying to escape and insulting the Libyan flag.
He first appeared in court on 17 January where the trial was adjourned.
Today Saif appeared for around 20 minutes in front of a packed courtroom, including a substantial numbers of journalists. He appeared to be overly laid-back and, at times, unaware of what was happening. He smiled as if trying to suppress a laugh, and winked at journalists.
Saif was represented by two lawyers, one appointed by the tribunal, the other a female Libyan lawyer, Mabrouka Jamaa, appointed by an aunt of Saif’s. Before the judge started proceedings, his female lawyer tried to speak to Saif but he did not seem to be taking much notice of what was going on.
When asked if he was happy for the lawyers to represent him, Saif did not appear to understand the question.
He looked well enough in court, although he has lost a front tooth. When journalists asked how this happened, he dismissed the question with a hand gesture which seemed to suggest it was unimportant.
After the hearing, former Justice Minister and president of Libya’s National Council for Civil Liberties and Human Rights, Mohammed Allagi, and former Defence Minister Osama Juwaili held a press conference. Allagi was asked by Zintan Local Council to act as an official observer at the trial.
Saif was one of seven defendants in the attempted escape case, Allagi said. However, the other six people are not in Libya and it is not clear whether these are members of Saif’s International Criminal Court defence team who were detained for three weeks last year.
Juwaili, a member of Zintan Local Council, said that Zintan was holding the trial because it was a part of Libya. The trial could be held anywhere in the country, he added.
“We have seen what is happening in Tripoli [a reference to the besieging of ministries by militias] and Zintan is safe,” Juwaili said, “He will get a fair trial in Zintan”.
Juwaili added that any further case, such as trying Saif for human rights crimes committed during the revolution, could equally take place anywhere in the country. However, he added: “He was caught by Zintanis and is being held in Zintan with government approval.”
Allagi said that from the first day of Saif’s capture, he had been well-treated, in accordance with international laws. He explained that interviews with Saif were not permitted because the case was sensitive and there were concerns about people trying to help him escape again.
When asked how long the present case would last, Juwaili told the Libya Herald that it was difficult to give an answer.
The trial has been adjourned until 19 September.