Muammar Gaddafi‘s son Saif al-Islam and eight others have been sentenced to death for war crimes committed during the 2011 Libyan uprising, according to reports emerging in western media. BBC reported that the ruling came in a mass trial in Tripoli, convicting Saif al-Islam Gaddafi of war crimes, most of which dealt with suppressing peaceful protests during the 2011 Libyan uprising, and complicity in incitement to rape.
The sentence was handed down in absentia as the younger Gaddafi is being held by a rebel group who are opposed to the Tripoli authorities in the south-western town of Zintan, according to CNN. Earlier, some reports suggested that Saif al-Islam had appeared briefly in court, but they remain unconfirmed. Other than Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and Muammar Gaddafi’s last prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi have also been sentenced to death by a firing squad.
The most high-profile of the eight children of Muammar Gaddafi, Saif as-Islam earned his PhD from London School of Economics, but later joined his father in running the state affairs of the north African country.
The full list of charges against the 37 defendants includes kidnapping, plunder, sabotage and embezzlement of public funds during and after the uprising. Muammar Gaddafi, the deposed dictator of Libya, was killed in 2011 by rebel forces attempting to free the country from military dictatorship.
After Tripoli was won over by National Transitional Council forces in August 2011, Gaddafi and his sons had escaped to the southern town of Sirte to avoid prosecution. However, while his sons had managed to flee when rebel forces attacked, Muammar Gaddafi was not so lucky.
In the ensuing period, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was convicted of many war crimes, but he has constantly declined all allegations against him. He is even wanted by the International Criminal Court for issuing orders during the revolution that amounted to genocide.
However, according to The Independent, human rights agencies and individual activists have raised questions on the legitimacy of Libyan judicial systems and are concerned with the fairness of the trial, which had opened in Tripoli last year.
The prosecutors at the trial accused Saif al-Islam of being a participant in his father’s plans to “quell, by all means, the civilian demonstrations against the Gaddafi regime”.
It does not seem probable that the rebel forces will let go of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi just yet, even with the Tripoli court sentencing him to death. They have their own grievances against the Gaddafi regime.
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