Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. After the ICC, an exclusive interview with Gaddafi’s lawyer Khalid al-Zaidy

The spokesman of the International Criminal Court (ICC) , Fadi El Abdallah, said in our recent conversation in The Hague that if the favourite son of the late Libyan leader, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, win the upcoming presidential elections “For the ICC nothing would change, and it would be in the same situation, as the court issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Gaddafi and we continue to demand his arrest and surrender. The prosecutor reiterated this to the Security Council, asking to help the Libyan authorities to cooperate better and execute this arrest warrant issued by the judges”. Mr Abdallah also added that “Mr. Gaddafi has not been convicted, and above all he is innocent until proven guilty “, it is necessary that he hands before the court”, so the judges can decide if he is guilty or innocent after a fair proceedings“. As in the best courtrooms now it’s the moment to listen the defence, in this exclusive meeting with the historic Gaddafi family’s lawyer, Khaled al-Zaidy.

-First of all, can you confirm that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi will participate in the next elections in Libya?

“What I can confirm is that if Dr Saif al-Islam Gaddafi will take part in the elections he will win over all the candidates, this is well known to all politicians and anyone who follows the Libyan political and popular scene. However, it’s not on me to confirm his willingness to participate in the elections because at the moment it is premature to talk about elections considering that the political process for the presentation of candidatures has not yet started. However, the request for the candidature of Dr Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is a popular demand, both Libyan tribes and cities and other important actors on Libyan soil constantly demand the participation of Saif al-Islam in the Libyan political life in order to put an end to current chaos, destruction and fighting. Dr Saif al-Islam has great popular support, and this is well known not only on the local ground but also in the international one. If Saif participates in the political process, he will play a significant role in achieving peace and security in Libya and this will reflect on security and peace in the region and even in the world. Libya was a prosperous and progressing country, but it has become a semi-state in which education and health have collapsed, the Libyan citizen has lost their dignified life. All this was caused by the intervention of NATO in 2011, which overthrew Libya and destroyed the institutions, now the Libyans suffer from the spread of terrorism, illegal immigration, chaos and loss of security. If Dr Saif al-Islam Gaddafi takes part in the political process in Libya and will play his role during the next period, security will be restored quickly, because he has experience and he enjoys popular support, this will finally lead to the political and economic stability of Libya”.

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-According to the International Criminal Court, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is innocent until proven guilty. Does your client plan to present himself before the ICC?

“Actually, he was not convicted by any international court and any suspect is innocent until proven guilty. It was already known that Dr Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is innocent and has not committed war crime, no genocide, no mass killing and no forced evacuation from cities, and we believe that the charges against Dr Saif are only of political nature. All the charges against him have the goal to remove him from the Libyan political scene. We still ask for any evidence of the accusations made against him, but in vain. The only evidence, according to them, would be Dr Saif al-Islam’s speech broadcast live via satellite in 2011 in which he warned his people to not fall the plot that would lead to the destruction of their country and that the state would punish according to the local law those who had transgressed the rules. This speech was distorted from warning and warning to the threat and intimidation. This is not true because it never threatened the Libyan people. In fact, after 7 years Libyans are suffering from the high cost of living and the smuggling of human beings, the waste and theft of public funds and the squandering of the wealth of the Libyan people. Regarding the other part of the question about the appearance of Saif al-Islam before the ICC, this is inappropriate, it will not be handed over to the international court after being prosecuted in the Libyan courts. Above all because Libya has its own jurisdiction. It’s clear that the jurisdiction of the ICC is complementary rather not alternative to the national judicial system. This is confirmed by the preamble of the Statute of Rome which states: “The national courts of all countries are required to exercise their national jurisdiction over crimes recognized by international jurisdiction”. I would point out that the same court that investigated on the case against Dr Saif al-Islam is the same one who led the case against Mr. Abdullah al-Senussi. So, the national judiciary exercised its jurisdiction and the exceptions that fall within the jurisdiction of the court cannot be worked out because they are not available in the case of Dr Saif al-Islam. For this reason, Saif will not present itself before any court as this request contradicts Article 17 of the Rome Statute and other international human rights agreements, he has the right to live his life in his country as any other Libyan citizen. Since 2016, I declared that the ICC Prosecutor applies “selective justice” to the crimes committed in Libya. At the moment it is unreasonable to think that Dr Gaddafi can commit crimes against humanity, also it must be said that the prosecutor does not act and does not deal with many other cases, but the prosecutor has continued to work for years only on the case against Saif al-Islam , while there are documents, records and confessions of crimes committed every minute in Libya, but the prosecutor is distracted from consideration”.

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