Libyan court sentences Gaddafi's son to death

news
29 July 2015

Four years after his capture while trying to flee the country, former Libyan strongman Muammar Gadafi's 43-year son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has been sentenced to death by a firing squad, following his conviction in the murder and genocide during Libya's 2011 civil war.

However, he is not likely to be executed immediately due to the political chaos in the country.

According to commentators, the news revived uncomfortable questions about the nature of his relationship with former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Blair had helped Saif with his philosophy PhD thesis during his controversial student days at the London School of Economics - an institution, which had accepted hundreds of thousands in ''donations'' from Saif's charitable foundation and the Gaddafi clan.

Saif, was educated in universities in Libya and Vienna, started visiting London regularly in 2002, setting up his foundation and pursuing other interests of clubbing, casinos and womanising.

Saif lived in a 10-million home in North Hampstead, complete with a suede-lined cinema and private swimming pool. 

The flamboyant heir apparent to the throne in Libya, was also a regular at salons of the rich and powerful, particularly after the ''deal in the desert'' of 2004 in which Colonel Gaddafi was persuaded to give up his chemical weapons or face military action.

The heir apparent who was also wanted by the International Criminal Court, was tried in his absence as he is held by a militia opposed to the Tripoli authorities.

The court also sentenced to death, former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi, and Gaddafi's last prime minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, they however, have the option of appealing to the supreme court.

The 37 defendants faced charges, including murder and complicity in incitement to rape, during the 2011 revolution.

Libya has been riven by conflict since Gaddafi's overthrow, with rival governments and militias battling for control of cities and oil riches.

The trial, which got underway in the Libyan capital in April last year, had been criticised by human rights watchdogs and an unresolved dispute with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague over jurisdiction in the case of the strongman's son.

According to rights groups, the trial was deeply flawed and missed an opportunity to expose the crimes of the Gaddafi regime.

The death sentences were slammed as ''appalling'' by Amnesty International.

"Instead of helping to establish the truth and ensuring accountability for serious violations during the 2011 armed conflict, this trial exposes the weakness of a criminal justice system hanging on by a thread in a war-torn country with no central authority," Amnesty's Philip Luther said.





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