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Jailed Gaddafi son 'has no lawyer'

The captured son of Muammar Gaddafi is being treated well but has not had access to a lawyer, an international rights group has said.

After visiting Saif al-Islam in a mountain stronghold of Libya's ex-rebel fighters it urged Libya's new leaders to ensure he gets legal representation..

Saif, who has been charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, was captured in November by fighters from the town of Zintan in Libya's western mountains, one of the key centres of the rebellion. The Zintan fighters continue to hold him, and Libya's national leadership in Tripoli is insisting on trying him at home, although they have yet to establish a functional court system.

He "had no complaints about the physical conditions of his detention" but "his main concern was the lack of access to family and to a lawyer," said Fred Abrahams, a special adviser with Human Rights Watch who visited him.

Saif, who for months helped his father lead the fight against Libyan rebels, was charged in June with crimes against humanity by the ICC for alleged atrocities committed during the civil war.

Libya's general prosecutor, Abdelaziz al-Hasadi said he would allow Gaddafi's son "access to a lawyer when the government prepared a secure detention facility in Tripoli."

The rights group urged Libya to demonstrate that it has broken with the past by ensuring the fair handling of the case. "The new Libya is about respecting the rights of all detainees. The world is watching how Libya handles this case, and Libya should prove that it will grant him all the rights that were too often denied in the past," Mr Abrahams said.

Speaking of the conditions of his detention in Zintan, Saif said, "The treatment is OK; at least I'm in my own country." "There is no torture or anything like that," he said, speaking comfortably in English.

His main complaint was what he called his "total isolation" from the outside world and that he has not been allowed to speak with or receive visits from any family or friends. He does have access to some books, but not to newspapers, television, or radio, Human Rights Watch said.

Saif's brothers Saif al-Arab and Khamis were killed earlier in the war. Their mother, Safiya, sister Aisha and another brother, Mohammed, fled to neighbouring Algeria.

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