Tripoli, 12 October:
In the continuing spat between the . . .[restrict]International Criminal Court and the Libyan government over where Saif al-Islam Qaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi should be tried, no-one should lose sight of the interests of the victims of the crimes of which they stand accused, warned a group of Libyan lawyers.
“The Libyan government and the ICC must make sure that they put the need for justice amongst victims and survivors first,” said Elham Saud, the director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL).
“Irrespective of where Saif al-Islam Qaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi are ultimately tried, the priority must be serving justice for those who were victims of crimes and atrocities in Libya. It is in their name and for them, that justice and accountability must be pursued. If it is not, then they will become victims once again,” added Saudi.
Qaddafi and Senussi both stand accused of crimes against humanity. The ICC only has jurisdiction to try them for crimes committed after February 2011. However, if tried in Libya, the pair would be held accountable for their actions both before and during the revolution.
Senussi, in particular, is heavily implicated in the 1996 Abu Salim prison massacre. Senussi is currently being detained in Tripoli’s Habda Al-Khadra prison and Saif is still being held by militiamen in Zintan.
LFJL also stressed the importance of ensuring the rights of the defendants by all parties involved. Saudi said: “The unfair treatment of defendants would be a stain on Libya’s transition towards a state which respects human rights and the rule of law, and must be avoided.”
Equally Saudi warned: “There remains the ever-present danger of fostering a culture of impunity in Libya. All possible means must be used to ensure that this does not occur and to promote accountability and reconciliation.”