Libya Seeks More Time To Answer Seif Questions

Published January 10, 2012 2:36PM (EST)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Libyan authorities have asked for more time to answer questions from the International Criminal Court about the case of Moammar Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent, who is wanted by the court but is being held by Libyan fighters, according to court papers released Tuesday.

In a response filed Monday, Libya said it needs three more weeks to respond to questions asked on Dec. 6 by judges "due to the security situation" in the country.

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi was arrested in November by fighters in Libya's remote southern desert. He has been held largely without access to the outside world ever since and Libyan authorities say they want to put him on trial, despite an arrest warrant issued by the ICC in June.

Judges asked Libya to provide details by Jan. 10 about whether Seif was arrested based on the ICC warrant, whether he was being held incommunicado, and whether court officials could visit Seif to check on his health and ask if he wants legal representation.

His sister, Aisha Gadhafi, expressed disappointment at Libya's failure to meet the original deadline for responding.

Nick Kaufman, Aisha Gadhafi's lawyer, said she "regrets that her brother Seif al-Islam continues to be denied his basic human rights, namely access to a lawyer, access to a competent judicial authority charged with reviewing the conditions of his detention and communication with his family."

Seif was charged in June along with his father and Libya's former intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senoussi, with crimes against humanity, including multiple murders allegedly committed in the former regime's brutal crackdown on dissent. The U.N. Security Council ordered the court's investigation.

The case against Moammar Gadhafi was halted after he was captured and killed by rebels in October. Al-Senoussi's whereabouts are unknown.

Libya's request for more time came days after the country's new rulers hosted a visit by Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, despite a long-standing arrest warrant issued by the ICC that accuses al-Bashir of genocide and other crimes in Sudan's Darfur region.

The ICC is a court of last resort, meaning it only tries cases other nations cannot or will not try. Even so, Libyan authorities must still seek the court's clearance to prosecute Seif and persuade judges he will get a fair trial on the same charges he would have faced in The Hague.

By Salon Staff

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