Saif al-Islam Gaddafi: A Case For Human Rights?


Since his capture in November, Saif al-Islam, the second and most prominent son of the late and deposed Libyan leader Muammar el-Gaddafi, has been held in what was formerly a living room in a compound in Zintan, a mountain town about 100 miles southeast of the capital of Tripoli. The Guardian reports that Fred Abraham of Human Rights Watch has been allowed to interview Saif, and says that he “looked well” and is fed three times a day.

Saif is denied access to television, radio and the internet as well as all visitors, including lawyers. He also has yet to be told what he is being charged with. As a result, the man who supported his dictator father in violently cracking down on pro-democratic protests that began last February ago in Libya has become a cause for international human rights.

The ICC Claims Primacy to Try Saif al-Islam

Back in June, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for Saif’s arrest on the charges of crimes against humanity, based on Saif’s role in ordering the repression of pro-democratic protesters. A warrant was also issued for his late father and for the former intelligence chief, Abdullah Senoussi, who is still at large. After Saif’s capture, the ICC had demanded that he be handed over to The Hague to be tried, on the grounds that the National Transitional Council (NTC), Libya’s interim government, cannot grant him a fair trial.

Abdurrahim El-Keib, the new prime minister of Libya, had promised that Saif would receive a fair trial, says Al Jazeera. Today, January 10, was the deadline from ICC to clarify Saif’s legal status; the NTC has said that it needs more time and the ICC has extended the deadline until January 23. The NTC has insisted that Saif will be tried in Libya. As the Guardian explains:

Should Libya go ahead with a trial, unsanctioned by the ICC and without international participation, it will pose a problem for both the UK and France, who backed the rebels with Nato air strikes, special forces and diplomatic support. Both David Cameron and France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, invested political capital in justifying their intervention in Libya, arguing that the new regime will mark a break with the country’s authoritarian past.

At the time of Saif’s arrest by the Zintan militia (one of the country’s most powerful), El-Keib had said that this would “turn the page on the phase of revolution.” But the NTC has dragged its feet about Saif’s case and about an investigation of the killing of Gaddafi as well. Tunisia has so far refused to extradite Gaddafi’s former prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, on the grounds that there are no guarantees that he will not be tortured once back in Libya.

Saif’s current circumstances under constant armed guard in a room with a dirty carpet in Zintan are in marked contrast to the playboy lifestyle — including a mansion in London and lavish parties with celebrities as guests — he was known to live while his father was in power. While Saif said that he would promote democratic reform in Libya, he backed his father fully when the protests broke out in Libya last February and made a number of  ”diatribes” against the rebels via state television. According to the Guardian, he is thought to have “damaging secrets relating to some of those who continue to hold powerful positions in Libya,” as well as, possibly, information about the Scottish authorities’ decision to free the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in 2009.

Saif’s sister, Aisha, who is now in exile in Algeria, has hired Israeli lawyer Nick Kaufman, a war crimes specialist, to demand that Gaddafi’s death be investigated.

While Saif is by no means a beloved figure, Libyans have been increasingly frustrated with the NTC. Protests have broken out, accusing it of being both incompetent and secretive and demanding more transparency. Besides Saif, more than 7,000 prisoners are held in makeshift prisons throughout Libya, says the Guardian; they have also not had access to lawyers or to a trial.


Related Care2 Coverage

Tripoli Zoo Animals Recovering After War (video)

Arab Spring Anniversary: Remembering Mohamed Bouazizi

Gaddafi’s “Henchman” al-Senussi Captured


Photo of Libyans celebrating Gaddafi's death in October by magharebia


Jeanne Papadakos
Jeanne Papadakos5 years ago

Please take a moment to read these two petitions. Both petitions carry the same message and are about basic human rights. A triail in Libya will be nothing more than a show trial. Saifs only chance to life and to prove his innocence is transferred outside of Libya. Please help save a life by signing and sharing.

Jelica R.
Jelica R5 years ago

Thanks, Jeanne.

Let Saif See his Lawyer

Save Dr Saif Al Islam Qadhafi

On October 8th & 9th A Final Decision Will Be Made Regarding The Location Of Saif Al Islam Gaddafi’s Trial

"The International Criminal Court have issued an order to convene on October 8th and 9th to hear the arguments of Saif Al Islam Gaddafi’s defense and that of the Libyan authorities regarding where Saif’s trial will take place. Saif's chances of a fair trial have been irrevocably compromised.

ICC Document Situation in Libya in the Case of the Prosecutor v. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullas Al-Senussi

Jeanne Papadakos
Jeanne Papadakos5 years ago

Pls sign petition for Saif

petition2 -

Michael MacDonald

Michael MacDonald

@Parvez Z.

man, read some history.

the conflict and the level of fascism in Libya
has been going on for over 40 years.

You can't assume you know that every single conflict out there is some U.S. war for oil.
The U.N. intervention in Libya and Syria was pushed through by activist petitions from avaaz and amnesty.
There are more counties than just America in this world buddy.
I'm not American myself,
and you guys were one of the last countries to agree to get involved so assuming that this is your war in totally arrogant.

You're right that the CIA is a terrible organization,
but you're making outrageous claims about something you obviously know little about seeing as you weren't aware of the conflict before the U.S. got involved.

If you want to do something productive against the CIA/the DEA as well,
watch what they are doing in latin America with the war on drugs in everywhere from Mexico to Columbia.
tens of thousands of people die because of them every single year in Mexico alone and those are citizens too not just king pin drug dealers.
When they took down Christopher Coke in Jamaica recently,
they shot up a whole group of innocent civilians.
On top of all of this,
the level of corruption by the CIA is absolutely appalling.
One of them was actually found to have financed a private jet for a Colombian drug lord.
Talk about hypocrisy.
That's where you need to aim your frustrations with the CIA right now.
Libya and Syria are U.N. intervention t

Michael MacDonald

@Steve R.

because some Americans actually care about more people than just themselves.

not that any gaddafi supporter is anyone to care about,
but the point is that not every single American is ethnocentric.

Michael MacDonald

as much as I have no sympathy for Gaffafi and any of his supporters,
if Libya wants to head in the direction of a more fair and just society
they should give this man a fair and timely trial in spite of what he did.

I still think the man deserves a life sentence,
but that doesn't mean that we have to keep putting off his trial.
Get it over with and that way these stupid pro-gaddafi people can shut up already.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L6 years ago

All of Gaddafi’s family and previous ministers should be rounded up and sent to The Hague. They are all involved one way or the other for the torture and murder of civilians. They, at the very least, knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it for their own personal gain.

AbdulAziz A.
AbdulAziz A6 years ago

Even as a multiple killer or his aid, he is getting better treatment than the innocent inmates of guantanamo.

So much for the US justice

KS Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.