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.

Libya Crisis: Warplane Strikes At Zintan Airport

Libya-AirportA war plane has launched air strikes on a western  town in Libya allied with the internationally recognized government on Tuesday, in what officials described as an attack by the rival government controlling Tripoli.

Libya is increasingly divided, with the Prime Minister, Abdullah Al-Thinni’s recognised government, and his allies locked in a conflict with a rival faction that took over the capital and established its own self-declared government.

“The military jet attacked, hitting the airport in the western town of Zintan in the mountains near the Tunisian border,” Airport official from Zintan said, adding that limited damage was caused near the runway while there were no casualties.

But an air strike by the rival Tripoli government would be an escalation of its war with Thinni’s forces which had been operating out of the east.

Zintan airport said in a statement that “A warplane conducted an air strike on the airport of Zintan while passengers were about to depart. “Two flights were canceled for security.”

Defense officials from Thinni’s government accused the Tripoli faction of carrying out the attack.

There was no immediate response from the Tripoli authorities.

Four years after the NATO-backed war toppled Gaddafi, Western governments fear Libya is sliding deeper into war as the rival factions battle for control and the country’s oil wealth.

U.N. peace talks among key factions has made little concrete progress. But negotiations are expected to continue this month in an attempt to form a united government and end hostilities.

Fighting at Tripoli airport, gunmen surround planes

Clashes broke out between rival Libyan militias at Tripoli’s international airport on Monday after angry gunmen drove armed pickup trucks on to the tarmac and surrounded planes, forcing the airport to cancel flights.

In a fresh challenge to the interim government’s weak authority, members of the al-Awfea Brigade force occupied the airport to demand the release of their leader whom they said was being held by Tripoli’s security forces, officials said.

Weeks before a planned election, Libya’s new rulers are struggling to assert their control over an array of former fighters who still refuse to lay down their arms after last year’s war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

Several international flights were cancelled, and in some cases passengers who had already boarded planes got off and left the airport. Some flights were diverted to Tripoli’s military airport Mitiga, airport workers said.

“The situation in the airport is very tense and tanks are surrounding the buildings. No one is allowed into the building,” said the security official, who declined to be named.

One Italian passenger who was due to fly out and later arrived at a Tripoli hotel described the situation as “chaotic”.

“There were about 200 of them who came into the airport, they were armed. We were waiting to board our flight and we could hear noises, people shouting,” he said.

Clashes later broke out when militia groups from Tripoli as well as the mountain town of Zintan arrived at the airport to try to get the al-Awfea Brigade to leave, a Reuters reporter said. He said gunfire could be heard and men were entering the airport carrying rocket-propelled grenades.

REUTERS