Tripoli, 5 . . .[restrict]June:
The first trial of a major Qaddafi regime official opened this morning, Tuesday, in Tripoli with Abu Zaid Omar Dorda, latterly Qaddafi’s external intelligence chief, in the dock.
Arrested last September, he faces six charges — conspiracy to kill, arming people to murder civilians, planning civil war, denying people their freedom to protest, illegal arrest and abuse of his authority including mismanagement of public funds.
After the charges were read to him, Dorda denied them saying that he would “supply the evidence when I testify in court”.
His lawyers, all from Jadu ? Salim Said Malhouf, Daw Mansouri Aoun and Ali Amr Salem — then petitioned the court for an adjournment so as to allow more time to prepare his defence. The judge ruled in favour, agreeing to reconvene on 26 June, 2012.
The hearing, held at the former Tripoli Military College which has been reconfigured as a courtroom to try former regime figures, was attended by numerous relatives of the accused including his sons, his brother Abdullah and some of his cousins. Various civil societies and human rights organisations were also present as were a fair representation of the Arab and international press. Those in court were given the opportunity to talk to Dorda who had walked into court with the help of two walking sticks; he broke his legs when he fell trying to escape from arrest through a second floor window. He was asked about his health, how he has been treated, and if food was provided where he is being detained.
Also on standby in the courtroom was a doctor who stated that healthcare and medical supplies has been provided for the defendant around the clock. He added that the defendant had also been provided with a wheel chair because of pains in one of his legs.
Prior to being one of Qaddafi’s intelligence chiefs, Dorda served as General Secretary of the People’s Committee (prime minister) between October 1990 and January 1994 and later then as Libyan ambassador to the United Nations, from 1997 to 2003. Between 2004 and 2006, he was minister in charge of the railways project, then minister for housing until 2009.
Security, already tight in Tripoli following yesterday’s attack on the airport, was very noticeable. There were gun-mounted vehicles in the streets around the court, snipers on the roofs of nearby buildings and a helicopter overhead throughout the hearing.
Others expected in court in the next few days are Abdurrahman Al-Sayed, who ended up as Qaddafi’s army chief, Abdulati Obeidi, prime minister from 1977 to 1979 and, following Musa Kusa’s defection last March Qaddafi’s final foreign minister, and Qaddafi’s London ambassador Mohammed Al-Zway who in 2010 was chosen to be Secretary-General of the General People’s Congress. [/restrict]