Deep divisions on Gaddafi officials’ trial
Is the dialogue at risk of jeopardy?
There is a big question surrounding the sentencing of Saif al-Islam, Abdullah al-Senoussi and Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi and other officials, why was the verdict released at this time? It seems as if it is related to the recent debates on initialling the UNSMIL draft.
The trial which took place on 28th July 2015, in which 32 Gaddafi-era officials were convicted of various crimes which took place in the 2011 uprising, was undermined by due process violations, as it did not meet the international standards of fair trial. According to the Human Rights Watch, The Court of Assize in Tripoli convicted 32 defendants, of which 9 were sentenced to death, and 23 to prison terms of between five years to life imprisonment, the notorious names on the list of defendants sentenced to death are: Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, Abdullah al-Senoussi, and Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi and Abuzaid Dorda, all were sentenced to death.
Observers say that there was a delay in the trial, as the prosecuted leaders of the Gaddafi regime deserve to be sentenced by a Libyan court, also, the argument that there were other, bigger crimes committed by many leaders of the revolutionaries, must be put aside as any crime committed after the 2011 must not make the leaders of the Gaddafi regime innocent or good in any way, shape or form. However, some observers opposing the latter view would say that it is not fair to sentence Saif al-Islam and the other leaders of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, because the verdict would be bias, and they believe that they should have been handed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and let them judge them fairly. Other supporters of the sentence, say that the defendants are the reason why Libya is in chaos; at the start of the revolution they did not listen to the people, they went against them, tried to silence and kill them, if they listened to the people in the first place none of this would have happened.
“This trial has been plagued by persistent, credible allegations of fair trial breaches that warrant independent and impartial judicial review,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The victims of the serious crimes committed during the 2011 uprising deserve justice, but that can only be delivered through fair and transparent proceedings.”
According to the Human Rights Watch, both the prosecutors and the defendants can look for the Supreme Court cassation chamber’s review. Under Libyan law, the cassation chamber’s consideration of verdicts issued by the Court of Assize appears limited to questions of law. Be that as it may, to ensure a veritable examination, the Higher Court ought to be capable to consider components of both reality and law. The principles and guidelines on the right to a fair trial and legal assistance in Africa state that the privilege to claim should give a certifiable survey of the case, including the law and the actualities.
The continuous political crisis in Libya, together with the general decay in security conditions also put in question the trial judges’ capacity to settle the case freely and without bias. Trials of serious unlawful acts, such as those at the focal point of this procedure are usually sensitive and impose enormous demands on indicting other authorities, including the commitment to ensure the security of witnesses, victims and judicial personnel.
Even the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) are not happy with the court sentences, one can conclude that this is due to the fact that it can disrupt the process of the dialogue and make the situation in Libya worse.
According to the Director of Human Rights, Claudio Cordone, the trial that was carried out did not follow international standards of fair trial. The defendants were charged with attempted suppression of the 2011 Libyan revolution. Cordone said that, the concerns over the trial incorporate the way that few defendants were absent for a number of sessions, for example, Saif al-Islam who was connected to the trial via video link from Zintan. In addition the prosecution did not present any witnesses or documents in court, limiting itself completely to the written evidence available in the case file, therefore missing a noteworthy chance to build an open record of crimes committed by the former regime.
In conclusion, we can say that Libyans are divided into more than two divisions regarding the matter, the issue is worrying due to the fact that it concerns the progress of the dialogue. We can see the contradictions are very complicated, in which some supporters of the Dignity (Karama) operation believe that what happened shouldn’t have, and that Saif al-Islam and the others are needed to rule the country, as they believe that they are better than the leaders of the Libyan revolution.
The officials and the supporters of the House of Representatives, and the Dignity Karma operation, believe that the capital city of Tripoli is not free, as it is occupied by militants, so the court in Tripoli is not qualified enough to undertake this trial.
On the other side, many supporters of the Libya Dawn (Fajr Libya) operation believe that after this sentence, Libya can progress and build itself. However, there is a moderate view, this is one that believes it would have been better for Libyans to surrender the sentenced leaders to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and then concentrate on how to solve the current issues by bringing the Libyan factions to concord and establish an accord government.