International Criminal Court judges called on Libya’s new leaders Tuesday to inform them as a matter of urgency if and when they intend to hand over Muammar Qaddafi’s captured son Seif al-Islam.
The Hague-based chamber said it was seeking from Libyan authorities “on an urgent basis” information on a number of issues including whether and when they “intend to surrender Seif al-Islam Qaddafi to the court”.
The court also said in a statement that it wanted to know whether Seif was arrested “on account of the court’s warrant” and whether information that Qaddafi’s one time heir-apparent was “being held incommunicado” was true.
In the document, judges say they want to know from Libya’s new rulers “when and where” court officials could meet Seif to ask if he wants a lawyer to represent his interests at the court and “to assess his physical and mental state.” It also directly asks Libyan authorities to indicate if they plan to surrender Seif to the ICC for trial.
The statement says a person whose identity was not released called court officials last month seeking to have a lawyer appointed to represent Seif at proceedings in The Hague.
Judges have so far declined the request as it remains unclear if Seif wants the person appointed.
Seif, who was arrested on November 19 almost a month to the day after his father was captured and killed, is being held in the southern Libyan town of Zintan, officials from the National Transitional Council have said.
The ICC issued a warrant in June for Seif on charges of crimes against humanity over the Libyan conflict, but after his capture the NTC said it wanted to try him on Libyan soil.
ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said earlier that Seif’s trial could be held in Libya under the auspices of the court.
He also proposed two other options: Libya asking the ICC to decide whether a Libyan court could prosecute Seif, or Libyan courts trying Seif for other crimes for which he is wanted in Libya, with the ICC prosecuting him in The Hague on a separate charge of crimes against humanity.
In a letter sent to the court last month, the National Transitional Council said it “affirms that the Libyan judiciary has primary responsibility to try Seif al-Islam and the Libyan state is willing and able to try him in accordance with Libyan law.” However before Libyan authorities can do that, they formally have to challenge the ICC’s jurisdiction.
The ICC’s mandate says it can only prosecute those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes if a state’s national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute them.
Seif and Qaddafi’s spymaster Abdullah al-Senussi are wanted by the court on charges of crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution, while quashing the anti-Qaddafi uprising.