Even after Gadhafi’s fall in August and after his capture and killing in October, Libya’s numerous and sometime competing rebel factions have refused to disarm, raising fears of new violence and instability.
“We have priority over Seif al-Islam — we caught him, and we were the forefront leaders in this revolution,” said Tahir al-Turki, head of the small town’s local council, explaining why he would not be sent to the capital.
“He will be safer with us in Zintan. We don’t know who will take him or deal with him in Tripoli,” he said.
That position shows how powerful regional factions backed by bands of armed fighters are able to act autonomously, even on issues of the highest national interest.
Shammam, the information minister, played down suggestions that a power struggle was brewing over the high-value prisoner or that the position of local officials was undermining the authority of the national leadership.
He said the national leadership had no objection to keeping Seif al-Islam in Zintan until a trial can be organized, but that the small town was not capable of organizing and holding the trial itself.
“If you catch a criminal in Texas, you’re not going to bring him to Washington, are you?” Shammam told the AP.
Authorities in the National Transitional Council would also likely face challenges in organizing a trial.
Libya, under the elder Gadhafi’s 42-year rule, had intentionally weak state institutions and a government that barely existed. Gadhafi, who held no title, had ultimate authority and did not want the development of any other power centers that might challenge him.
As a result, a capable court system, like other state bodies, must be built from scratch.
Ocampo said that while national governments have the first right to try their own citizens for war crimes, his primary goal was to ensure Seif al-Islam has a fair trial.
International human rights groups have called for Seif al-Islam to be quickly sent to the court in The Hague, Netherlands, citing the apparent killings in custody of his father and brother Muatassim on Oct. 20 as “particular cause for concern.”
The two were captured alive last month by another strong regional group, the Misrata fighters, who also took part in the march on Tripoli that toppled the regime.
By the end of the day they were seized on, they both ended up dead while still in the hands of Misrata fighters in circumstances that have yet to be explained. The Misrata fighters held onto their corpses and displayed them as trophies for days in a commercial refrigerator in their city, where people lined up to view the decomposing bodies.View Entire Story
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