By Nigel Ash.
Tripoli, 17 October 2013:
Qaddafi’s former security chief Abdullah Senussi has appealed a decision by judges at the International Criminal Court that he can after all be tried in Libya and not brought before the international court in the Hague.
Senussi’s court-appointed lawyer, Benedict Emmerson filing the appeal today, was reported by the Associated Press as asking the ICC to order the Tripoli court trying his client to halt proceedings while the international judges considered the appeal. Emmerson claimed that there was a danger that his client could be convicted and executed in Libya before the ICC ruled on the appeal.
At the international court Senussi was charged with crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the uprising. Libyan charges also include the former security chief’s involvement in the 1996 massacre of 1,300 prisoners at Abu Selim jail.
The ICC a week ago accepted a Libyan government appeal against its original order that Senussi be handed over. Its ruling said that after careful consideration it had found that the Libyan prosecutor’s investigations covered the same ground as its own. It also noted the quantity and quality of the evidence collected against Senussi. It also praised efforts made to “resolve certain issues in the justice system by recourse to international assistance”.
In backing a Libyan trial for Senussi, the ICC also rendered pointless a ruling made by its judges on 26 September, demanding that the Libyan authorities permit members of Senussis defence team to have a privileged visit with their client in Libya. Mindful of the 26-day detention of Saif Al-Islam’s four-man defence team in Zintan 16 months ago, the ICC order made a point of insisting that the safety of the defence lawyers be guaranteed. Libya never agreed to the visit.
Senussi, is due to make his third appearance in Tripoli next Thursday. With 36 other former top members of the Qaddafi regime, Senussi first appeared in court on 19 September. At his last appearance, a closed-door session on 3 October, proceedings were adjourned so lawyers for all the defendants could consult more fully with their clients.