My Two Hundred Dinars: The Trial of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Posted on November 23, 2011


On November 19th, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was captured 400 miles south of Tripoli. Saif, highly westernised second son of Muammar Gaddafi and once considered his political heir, even seen as politically moderate, had been on the run since the fall of Tripoli in August this year. The International Criminal Court had issued a warrant for his arrest on the charge of crimes against humanity, and now that he is under arrest in Libya they are lobbying for him to be extradited for trial at the ICC. Should Saif al-Islam face the international courts, or should he be tried in his own country, by a legal system deliberately underdeveloped over the last fourty years of Gaddafi rule?

The answer to this is obvious, once a little back reading is done. The trial of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi should take place in a LIbyan court, he should be tried and judged according to Libyan law. The charges are of torture and kidnap and murder of Libyan civilians, so does it not make sense to have him tried by the same people? This is certainly the opinion of the Libyan people. Don’t let the pictures fool you, Libya is still an incredibly divided country, and by commiting to trying Saif at home, the NTC would gain a lot of support from the people. By handing him over to the international community that financed their push for power, the NTC will lose a lot of their current popularity, and any claims of a strong LIbyan run government will be all but lost. Their image as western puppets will be strengthened, and who knows what sort of battles could resume.

This is not the only reason that Saif should be tried in Libya however. The other, is the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court. Or maybe it should be renamed the African Criminal Court, as only Africans have been indicted and prosecuted so far. This had led to calls from a number of African leaders to boycott it entirely. Why the ICC believes it has judging powers way beyond that of the individual nations I do not know. The Hague has done itself absolutely no good with its handling of the Ex-Yugoslav trials as well, in particular the incredible cynicism and desperation of the Slobodan Milosevic trial. It has little, if any, credibility. As mentioned up top, these crimes were commited in the name of Libya, therefore the trials should take place in Libya. It’s the same with the former Yugoslavia, Milosevic et al should have been tried in the countries they commited their crimes. People can bluster then about how important it is for a trial to be un-biased and fair, but do you think Saif al-Islam would get a fair trial at the ICC? Watch or read anything about the Milosevic, was that a fair trial?

And whilst we’re at it, the ICC claims international jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and the crime of aggression. What about the illegal wars waged against Iraq and Afghanistan? What about the continuing genocide against Palestinians by the Israelis? What about the war crimes commited in Libya by NATO? Heck, there isn’t enough space here to list all of the war crimes commited by white english-speaking people over the years, so why is it only Africans are being charged here?

Because history is written by the mighty. By trying Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in Libya, one small step towards a more just world would be made. By allowing him to be tried by the ICC, the worldwide occupation would continue.