The International Criminal Court (ICC) has rejected a request from former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif Al-Islam, to have the international arrest warrant against him dropped.
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Delivering her latest six-monthly statement to the Security Council on the situation in Libya, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that her office maintains that Gaddafi must be arrested and surrendered to the court.
Issued by the ICC in June 2011, the existing warrant charges Saif Al-Islam with committing war crimes as part of his role in orchestrating the violent suppression of civilian demonstrations against his father’s regime.
Earlier this year, Gaddafi argued that he could not be tried by the ICC due to ongoing domestic proceedings in Libya; until last June he had been held as a prisoner by militia in the town of Zintan. But the argument was rejected by the court, which refused to comment further on the case.
Bensouda also issued demands for the arrest of commander of the Saiqa Force Mahmoud Al-Werfalli, reiterating that he is also wanted by the ICC for prosecution.
“This Council will recall that on the 15th of August 2017, a Pre-Trial Chamber of the Court issued an arrest warrant against him, having found reasonable grounds to believe that he is criminally responsible for seven execution incidents resulting in the murder of 33 individuals,” she concluded, calling on Al-Werfalli to surrender himself to the authorities.
Since the protests against the regime of Gaddafi in 2011, the country has faced chronic instability and violence. In 2014, Libya split between rival camps with General Khalifa Haftar emerging gradually as the dominant figure in the east, aligned with a regional parliament and government, and opposing the internationally recognised government in the capital, Tripoli headed by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj.
Gaddafi loyalists have also rallied, with a spokesman for the Gaddafi family confirming earlier this year that Saif Al-Islam, would stand as a candidate for president in upcoming election, although recent insecurity in the country has raised concerns that the poll could be delayed.
Bensouda emphasised that those accused of crimes during and after the revolution must be brought to trial in order to ensure long term peace in the country.
“Surrendering fugitives to the ICC is very challenging. There can be no justice made to the victims until the criminals are surrendered to the court,” she concluded, warning that “in the absence of accountability, impunity will continue to reign in Libya, causing great suffering and instability.”