28 Jul 2015

Gaddafi’s son sentenced to death by Libyan court

A Libyan court has sentenced the son of former Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to death.

Saif al-Islam was on trial for suppressing peaceful protests during the country’s 2011 uprising that overthrew his father’s rule.

He was found guilty of committing war crimes during the Libyan Civil War. The International Criminal Court in The Hague has also indicted him for crimes against humanity.

Saif al-Islam, who is the only surviving son of Muammar Gaddafi, gave evidence to court via video link as he is currently being held by a former rebel group in the Libyan town of Zintan.

He was captured in November 2011 soon after his father’s execution by rebel forces and local militia have refused to release him. The group opposes the Libyan government and is not recognised by world powers.

Death by firing squad

The court in Tripoli sentenced Saif al-Islam along with eight others to death by firing squad.

The former head of intelligence for the Gaddafi regime Abdullah al-Senussi is among those who is facing the death penalty. Former prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi and other senior members of the former Libyan government have also been found guilty on the same charges.

Sadiq al-Sur, chief investigator at the Tripoli state prosecutor’s office, told a news conference that eight other ex-officials received life sentences and seven were given jail terms of 12 years each. Four were acquitted and all but Saif al-Islam are in judicial custody.

The sentences can be appealed but must be confirmed by Libya’s highest court. The trial, which opened last year has faced criticism from human rights agencies. The International Criminal Court and rights groups say they worry about the fairness and competence of Libya’s judicial system.

Before the fall of Muammar Gaddafi’s government, Saif al-Islam was considered the second most powerful person in Libya.

He was educated at the London School of Economics and was once tipped by Western governments to lead Libya to democracy. However, he refused to abandon his father when the revolution began in Libya in early 2011.