Monday, August 22, 2011

Making room in the dock

[Monday evening update: Perhaps the Prosecutor spoke too soon?]

One of 3 Libyans charged by the International Criminal Court is now in custody.
Luis Moreno Ocampo, the ICC Prosecutor, confirmed that Libyan rebels seized Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi (right) during yesterday's apparent takeover of Tripoli. (photo credit)
The ICC arrest warrant issued on June 27 contends that Saif had been acting "de facto Prime Minister" for his father, longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.
No word at this writing on the whereabouts of the Saif's co-accused -- his father and also Libyan intelligence head Abdullah Al-Senussi. All 3 are alleged to be responsible for crimes against humanity stemming from the regime's months-long crackdown on civil unrest and, eventually, civil war. (prior posts)
The Office of the Prosecutor plans to begin talks with the rebels' National Transitional Council at once, with an aim to effecting a quick transfer of Saif to The Hague.
The chairman of that Council, Abdel Jalil told reporters yesterday that Saif was "being kept in a secure place under close guard until he is handed over to the judiciary."
It is perhaps notable that Jalil did not state precisely which judiciary.
That's because as recently as June 29 -- 2 days after ICC arrest warrants issued --another leader of the Council concluded his visit with Moreno Ocampo at The Hague by stating that "Libya should take the lead in anything related to Libya and on Libyan soil."
That statement seems at odds with an ICC prosecution, absent a showing that Libya is willing and able at this time to prosecute Saif itself. Without such a complementarity showing the position is at odds even with the U.N. Security Council's referral of the Libya situation to the ICC.
Time will tell whether the Libyan Council's position has changed.

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