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Court to name Qaddafi son lawyer in trial by video link

Saif is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity

Published: Updated:

A Libyan court said Sunday that it would appoint a lawyer for slain dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam after he insisted in a controversial hearing by video link that “God is my counsel.”

Just 22 of 37 former Qaddafi regime officials being tried for a raft of alleged abuses during the 2011 uprising that ended his 42-year rule were in court for Sunday’s hearing in the capital.

Saif spoke by video conference from Zintan, a hill town southwest of Tripoli, where he is in the custody of former rebel militia.

Eight other defendants, including former internal security chief Mansur Daw, appeared by video link from Libya’s third largest city Misrata.

The court ruled at a previous hearing earlier this month that it was too dangerous to move the defendants to the capital for the trial and ordered video links to be established instead.

Drawing condemnation

The ruling drew condemnation from human rights groups, which had already expressed serious concern about the prospects for the defendants receiving a fair trial.

Among those present in the dock on Sunday were former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi and Qaddafi’s last premier, al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi.

All the defendants are charged with murder, kidnapping, complicity in incitement to rape, plunder, sabotage, embezzlement of public funds and acts harmful to national unity.

The court set the next hearing for May 11.

Saif is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the NATO-backed uprising.

In May last year, the ICC rejected Tripoli’s request to try Saif in Libya because of doubts over a fair trial. Tripoli has appealed the decision.