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Libya wants its trial for Gadhafi's son

TRIPOLI -- Libya stood firm yesterday on the trial of Moammar Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, saying its courts could judge him fairly, defying the International Criminal Court, which says it is its right to try him at The Hague for crimes against humanity.

As news came in of the capture of the elder Gadhafi's intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, officials said he, too, would be given a fair trial in Libya.

The Hague court has indicted Seif al-Islam on charges of ordering the killing of unarmed protesters during the uprising that brought an end to his father's 42-year rule. It has indicted Senussi on the same charge of crimes against humanity.

A month after the elder Gadhafi was captured, tormented and killed, Seif al-Islam was captured Saturday in the country's southern desert. Senussi was taken nearby a day later.

With prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo's imminent arrival from The Hague, Libyan ministers insisted their own courts were up to the job.

The international court tries cases that nation states are unwilling or unable to prosecute, and here it is the strength of Libya's judicial system that is in doubt. Many observers say that after the elder Gadhafi spent four decades hollowing out Libya's public institutions, the judiciary cannot handle cases as sensitive and complex as these.

There are few alternatives to trying the younger Gadhafi and Senussi at The Hague, which risks angering many Libyans, and trying them in Libya without ICC authorization, which is likely to upset the West, violate international law, and provoke accusations of victors' justice. ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said a third option could be for the ICC to hold trials in Libya.

A potential model for a local trial with international input might be the special tribunal that tried Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Michael Scharf, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University who helped train Iraqi judges for that tribunal, noted that the Iraq case did not involve ICC indictments and said handing the Libyan suspects to The Hague would make sense.

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