By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 5 November 2013:
A tense and apparently nervous Saif Al-Islam has given a strange one-minute TV interview in Zintan, . . .[restrict]in which he answered just three questions, agreed in advance with his lawyer.
Broadcast this evening, the exclusive encounter with a reporter and crew from Al-Assema TV appears to have been recorded within the last few days. Wearing the same style blue prison jumpsuits as the 30 top Qaddafi-era officials now on trial in Tripoli, Saif was asked about his heath and whether he was being visited by human rights organisations and members of his family. To both enquiries, he replied merely: “Yes. Thanks be to God.”
The interviewer then asked why he wished to be tried in Zintan and not Tripoli. For the first time removing the hand that had been covering his mouth, Saif asked the interviewer if Zintan was not part of Libya? The interviewer said it was, to which Saif responded, with a flash of his old commanding ways, “Well there you are then”. Sitting back, he then showed that, in his view, the interview was over.
It is understood that the TV station had convinced Saif’s Libyan lawyer, Mohamed Abu Semah and the Zintani forces holding Saif, that he should make an on-screen appearance to confound rumours that he had escaped custody and left the country.
Saif’s expressed satisfaction with a Libyan trial is new. In the past the defence lawyers appointed for him by the International Criminal Court, have said that their client wished to be tried in the Hague, because he does not believe that he can receive a fair trial in his home country. Libya is still contesting an outstanding ICC demand that Saif be handed over. The ICC has however now accepted that Qaddafi’s former security chief Abdullah Senussi will now be tried fairly in Libya. Senussi’s ICC legal team is currently appealing that ruling, even as his trial gets under way in Tripoli.
Saif was due to be appearing in the same Tripoli courtroom as well, but despite demands from the Ministry of Justice, he has not been brought from Zintan. [/restrict]