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Muammar el-Qaddafi’s son and supposed heir, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, is being detained by a rebel militia outside of the Libyan capital, said American human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, who was given access to him.
They said that Qaddafi’s son was forbidden access to legal counsel while he awaited trial for crimes against humanity. There is no set date for the trial, and it is unknown whether he will be tried in Libya, where the justice system is still in disorder, or if he will be tried by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The International Criminal Court had issued a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Qaddafi in June, but Libyan authorities want him to be tried in their country.
Fred Abrahams, a Human Rights Watch representative, visited Mr. Qaddafi for about 30 minutes in private on Sunday in a town called Zintan. He has been held there since his capture on November 19. The representative claimed that Mr. Qaddafi was being treated well in his captivity, though he did say he was completely isolated from his family and was not allowed to see a lawyer. “The new Libya should be about giving prisoners and detainees their rights,” Mr. Abrahams stated. “They should give him the rights that his father denied to Libyans for so long. That would be a legal and moral victory for the new Libyan authorities, to say, ‘We will not behave like you.’ ”
After rumors circulated about how the Zintan fighters were treating their captive, the office of the general prosecutor in Tripoli gave Human Rights Watch leave to see Mr. Qaddafi. Abrahams said the arrangement was a reflection of the current situation in Libya and how it is changing. “It is not accurate to say he is being held by a militia outside of government control, although it is not true that he is in a prison directly controlled by the government either,” the representative said.
Human rights activists said the 8,000 prisoners that have been accused of fighting for the Qaddafi government have no set trial dates or access to lawyers. “The authorities think they can be held there and just wait forever,” said Nasser Jerrari, director of the Hope Association, a local rights organization. “There are many innocent people in jail as well.”
Rebel militias have become influential and powerful in postwar Libya, and the rebels from Zintan are among the most powerful. The Zintan fighters also protect and maintain the Tripoli International Airport. Tuesday was the deadline for the militias to leave Tripoli, but few obeyed. The commander of the Zintan fighters at the airport, Mokhtar al-Akhdar, maintained that postwar Libya was still fragile. “If the government has good people to secure the airport, then we will hand it over, and go home,” he stated. “But they cannot even control the border with Tunisia. If we give the government the airport, they will destroy it.”