Hand over Gaddafi son, Libyans told
The International Criminal Court has told Libyan authorities to surrender former dictator Muammar Gaddafi's son - wanted for crimes against humanity.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was arrested in November by rebel fighters in Libya's remote southern desert, and has been held largely without access to the outside world since then.
He was indicted in June along with his father and the Gaddafi regime's intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi for killing and persecuting civilians in the early days of the uprising that eventually brought down Gaddafi's four-decade dictatorship.
Libyan authorities say they plan to put Saif on trial, and - despite requests from The Hague, in the Netherlands - have so far taken no action to hand him over.
In a written ruling published on Wednesday, judges at the court rejected a request by Libya to postpone handing over Saif and urged the country's rulers to "proceed immediately with the surrender". Human Rights Watch urged Libya to act on the order.
"The court has issued its order. It is imperative that Libyan authorities start preparing to surrender Saif al-Islam," said Liz Evenson, senior counsel with the group's International Justice Program. "This is what co-operation with the court means."
Muammar Gaddafi was also was indicted by the court but was killed by rebel fighters in October.
Prosecutors were praised for their swift action last year in indicting Gaddafi, Saif and al-Senoussi, but the court's efforts to mete out justice in Libya have been stymied by Gaddafi's death, Libya's refusal to surrender Saif, and uncertainty over the fate of al-Senoussi, who was arrested in Mauritania last month.
Libya has said it also wants to try al-Senoussi, and France wants to put him on trial for the 1989 bombing of a French airliner.
Libyan authorities have told the International Criminal Court they plan to challenge its jurisdiction in the case, but judges say until that challenge is filed the authorities in Tripoli remain under an obligation to surrender Saif. The Hague-based tribunal is a court of last resort, set up to prosecute the most senior perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in countries unwilling or unable to put them on trial.