Friday, May 3, 2013

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appears in Libyan court charged with plotting escape | World news |

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appears in Libyan court charged with plotting escape

Son of Muammar Gaddafi is accused of conspiring to flee prison in case branded 'farce' by British lawyer
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in court in Libya. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libya's former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has appeared in court accused of plotting to escape from the jail in which he has been held since he was arrested in November 2011.
Libya accuses Gaddafi of conspiring to break out of his detention, in the western mountain town of Zintan, aided by a lawyer from the international criminal court (ICC), Melinda Taylor, who was herself detained by Libyafor three weeks last summer.
It was only the second appearance in court by Gaddafi, 40, since he was captured trying to flee Libya by former rebels.
The case is separate from charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity he faces from both Libya and the ICC, but Thursday's 20-minute hearing was branded a farce by his British lawyer, John Jones QC.
"It's a farce from start to finish," said Jones, who was not in court. "His detention is Libya's Guantánamo Bay. He's been held incommunicado for 17 months without any meaningful judicial process."
Gaddafi looked lean, smiling to journalists from the dock and giving a thumbs-up during the brief hearing. Prosecutors showed a pen and a watch they say contain a secret camera and recorder which Taylor was accused of smuggling into a meeting with Gaddafi last year. The court appointed two local lawyers to represent him, adjourning the case until September.
Libya alleges that Taylor had the items with her during a meeting in June last year. Prosecutors say they formed part of a conspiracy to organise an escape.
Thursday's hearing throws fuel on the fire of a simmering row between Libya and the ICC over who should try Gaddafi, with the court in The Hague demanding he be handed over to their custody, and yet to rule on whether to back Libya's plans for a war crimes trial on home turf.
Gaddafi was once considered the heir-apparent to his father, who was captured and killed by Libya's rebels in 2011, and is jointly charged with Libya's former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi, also in custody in Libya, of crimes against civilians during the Arab spring uprising.

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