Magharebia (Washington DC)

1 April 2014

Libya Courts Face Tough Task

Saadi Gaddafi and Saif al-Islam, two of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's sons, are expected to appear in court on Monday, facing charges of ... ( Resource: Trial Of Gaddafi's Two Sons, Former Officials Gets Underway

Tripoli — As Libya prepares to try dozens of Kadhafi regime figures on April 14th, lawmakers amended the Criminal Code to allow video testimony.

Moamer Kadhafi's sons Seif al-Islam and Saadi Kadhafi, spy chief Abdullah Senussi, former premiers Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi and Bouzid Dorda, and other officials will be able to avoid appearing at their criminal trials.

According to Saddik al-Sour of the prosecutor's office, the plan to permit "virtual trials" via satellite link arose over fears that defendants could be killed while travelling to the Tripoli court.

"This is a radical solution to legislative difficulties facing trials in Libya," al-Sour told the press on March 24th. Many of the defendants have already admitted to their crimes, al-Sour said.

"We are committed to the provisions of the law and we will not coerce anyone to confess. We only recognise truth according to law and standards," he added.

The spokesman for the state prosecutor used his recent press conference to discuss other criminal cases, such as the killings of Deputy Industry Minister Hassan al-Droui and Sirte militia leader Makhlouf bin Nasser.

Four people were arrested and "confessed to these crimes", al-Sour said, adding that ten other suspects were also sought in connection with the slayings.

Investigations are under way regarding older crimes, such as the1996 massacre of 1,200 inmates at Abu Salim prison, al-Sour said. "So far we interrogated 50 defendants," he said.

He also discussed alleged corruption by Benghazi security directorate spokesman Tariq Kharaz.

"When it comes to corruption, we need to hear the testimony of those involved," al-Sour said.

While citizens voiced support for the intensified efforts by the prosecutor's office, they said that that much more work was needed to get Libya on track.

"I think things will just move in the right direction, provided the army and police are built," journalist Meftah Belaid noted.

"We need to use an iron fist, and at the same time apply the spirit of law, against those who commit crimes so they become an example for others," electronic engineer Yasmin Zayed told Magharebia.

The judicial police "have a major role to play in securing prisons, making sure that no prisoners escape, and arresting the criminals who escaped in Kadhafi's last days", she added.

"I'm following the trials of Kadhafi's loyalists and I hope to see sentences passed rather than postponed trials," echoed housewife Salima Ali. "I think we've benefited from the lesson of fair trials after we used to hear about disappearances and murders at the time of Kadhafi."

"I'm also glad that those behind the Abu Salim prison massacre are being tried, because that particular case has always haunted Libyans, especially the victims' families," she added.

Tripoli resident Abdelfattah al-Mansouri wants Libyan courts to punish those found guilty.

"We don't want to see the defendants behind bars and then nothing happens," he said.

"The police sector needs to be developed so they can arrest defendants and criminals, and the army needs to help establish security, " teacher Mahasen Beshir said.

"Criminals see that there's no state and therefore wreak havoc in the land," Beshir added.

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InFocus

Libya: Will Gaddafi Sons Receive Fair Trial?

As the long-awaited trial of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and his brother al-Saadi is set to begin, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has expressed concern about the lack of access to ... Read more »