Libya Protesters Demand Release Of Gaddafi-Era Spy Chief

Libya Protesters Demand Release Of Gaddafi-Era Spy Chief
Family and tribe members of imprisoned former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi, demonstrate with signs calling for his release and showing his picture on posters, in the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 23, 2019. Mahmud Turkia / AFP

 

Relatives and supporters of Libya’s Gaddafi-era intelligence chief, jailed for his alleged role in a bloody crackdown during the country’s 2011 uprising, protested in Tripoli on Saturday to demand his release.

Abdullah al-Senussi, a brother-in-law of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was sentenced to death in 2015 over the part he allegedly played in the regime’s response to a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed Kadhafi.

Eight others close to Gaddafi, including the Libyan leader’s son, Seif al-Islam, also received death sentences following a trial condemned by the United Nations as “seriously” flawed.

Several dozen relatives and members of Senussi’s tribe, the Magerha, gathered in a central Tripoli square to demand he be freed over health concerns.

“The law and medical reports support our legitimate demand,” said one protester, Mohamad Amer.

Officials have not released specific details on his alleged health problems.

In a statement, the Magerha said his liberation would “contribute to and consolidate national reconciliation” in a country torn apart by inter-communal conflicts since Gaddafi’s fall.

The unusual protest comes just over a month after the release on health grounds of Abuzeid Dorda, Gaddafi’s head of foreign intelligence who was sentenced at the same time as Senussi.

The protesters held up photos of Senussi behind bars and placards reading “Freedom to prisoners. Yes to national reconciliation”.

Senussi was extradited in September 2012 by Mauritania, where he had fled after Gaddafi’s fall.

Like the dictator’s son, he had also been the subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for suspected war crimes during the 2011 uprising.

But in an unusual move, in 2013 the court gave Libyan authorities the green light to put him on trial.

He has since been detained in the capital, along with some 40 other senior Gaddafi-era officials including the dictator’s last prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.

Seif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s son, was captured and imprisoned by an armed group in the northwestern city of Zintan and sentenced by a Tripoli court in absentia.

The group announced his release in 2017 but it was never confirmed and his fate remains unknown.

AFP

Gaddafi’s Son Sentenced To Death

GaddafiA Libyan court passed a death sentence in absentia on Muammar Gaddafi’s most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, on Tuesday for war crimes and acts to crush peaceful protests during the country’s 2011 revolution that ended his father’s rule.

The court also sentenced to death by firing squad eight other former Gaddafi regime officials including his former intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi and ex-prime minister, Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, on the same charges,

The Chief Investigator at the Tripoli State Prosecutor’s office, Sadiq al-Sur, said this.

He told a news conference carried by al-Nabaa television that eight other ex-officials received life sentences and seven were given jail terms of 12 years each. Four were acquitted. All but Saif al-Islam are in judicial custody.

The verdict on al-Islam was passed in absentia in Tripoli since he has been held for four years by a former rebel group in the Zintan region beyond central government control.

The trial began in April 2014 before fighting between rival factions in Tripoli ripped Libya apart in a power struggle which has produced two governments competing for central authority.

The sentences can be appealed and must be confirmed by Libya’s highest court.

The International Criminal Court and rights groups say they worry about the fairness and competence of Libya’s judicial system, although it won the right in 2013 to try Senussi at home instead of at the ICC in The Hague.