The son of slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was due to appear at a pre-trial hearing with more than 30 others in Tripoli on Thursday,although doubts remained whether his ex-rebel captors would allow him to attend.
Libya’s prosecutor general Abdulqader Radwan said yesterday he had ordered Saif al-Islam to be transferred to the Tripoli court from Zintan,180 km to the southwest.
The former heir apparent to Gaddafi and others including ex-intelligence supremo Abdullah al-Senussi are accused of crimes during the 2011 revolt which toppled Gaddafi.
Baghdadi al-Mahmudi,the last prime minister to serve under Gaddafi,and Mansur Daw,who headed the People’s Guard,are also among the accused in one of the most important legal cases in Libyan history.
“We have sent a transfer order to the penal authorities concerned to send those persons implicated in Case Number 630,including Saif al-Islam,” the prosecutor general told a news conference.
“So far there have been no obstacles to his transfer.”
Talks were reported to be under way late on Wednesday for Saif to be transferred to Tripoli for a period of several hours.
“This will depend mainly on security conditions,” said a source close to the case.
The main charges against the suspects include murders committed during the regime’s battle against the revolt that erupted in the eastern city of Benghazi in February 2011.
Gaddafi was captured and killed by rebels in his hometown of Sirte in October that year.
His son was captured the following month by a group of former rebels from the mountainous region of Zintan,and has been held there since.
The North African country’s interim authorities have tried several times to negotiate the captive’s transfer to Tripoli,so far in vain.
However,the authorities insist that Saif al-Islam is in the custody of the state.
Deputy prosecutor general Siddiq al-Sur stressed on Wednesday that all the prisons concerned came under the authority of the justice ministry.
“If the director of any such establishment refuses to obey orders,he will be pursued by the judiciary,” Sur told reporters.
However,Saif al-Islam is also due in the dock on Thursday in Zintan itself on charges of undermining state security.
Asked about the coincidence with the court appearance dates yesterday,Sur said only that “the prosecutor general’s office was not officially informed about the date of the trial” in Zintan.
Amnesty International,meanwhile,urged the immediate handover of Saif al-Islam and Senussi to the International Criminal Court.