ICC refers Libya to UN over trial of Gadhafi's son
EDITH M. LEDERER
Dec. 10, 2014
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Judges at the International Criminal Court ruled Wednesday that Libya failed to comply with a request to hand over the son of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi for prosecution on charges of crimes against humanity and referred the matter to the U.N. Security Council.
The Security Council, which referred the uprising that ousted Gadhafi to the ICC in 2011, could impose new sanctions on the Libya government. But it's unclear whether any new action would be effective because the country has split into two governments, one elected and the other backed by Islamists.
It remains unclear if Gadhafi's son and onetime heir-apparent, Seif Al-Islam Gadhafi, will ever face justice at the ICC. The militia holding Al-Islam in the western town of Zintan refuses to surrender him.
The international court charged Gadhafi's son in June 2011 with murder and persecution linked to the violent suppression of the rebellion against the dictator's more than 40-year rule.
Libya has begun its own trial against him and has argued that its courts should be given precedence. Libya argues that the ICC is a court of last resort that takes cases only when countries are unable or unwilling to pursue them. But ICC appeals judges ruled earlier this year that the Libyan charges were significantly different from the war crimes tribunal's charges and demanded that Seif Al-Islam Gadhafi be tried at The Hague.
In Wednesday's ruling, the judges said the Libyan government not only failed to surrender the younger Gadhafi but also failed to comply with an order to return to lawyers defending him the originals of documents seized by Libyan authorities in June 2012 in Zintan, and to destroy any copies.
The judges emphasized that their decision was based on Libya's failure to cooperate on the two issues "of paramount importance" to the court's operation, "including its duty to protect the rights of the parties and the interests of victims."
The judges said they recognized Libya's "volatile political and security situation" and were "sensitive to the serious difficulties that Libya is currently facing." They said they also recognized Libya's commitment to the court "in several respects," and its efforts to maintain "a constructive dialogue."
The ruling, they said, "was not intended to sanction or criticize Libya but solely to seek the assistance of the Security Council to eliminate the impediments to cooperation."