‘Saif Gaddafi, he is a Libyan. All the crimes and charges against him are committed in Libya.’ So said Aleddin Al-Mgariaf of the Libyan General National Congress on the day Saif’s trial began last week in a Libyan court. ‘Every Libyan believes that he should be tried in Libya. None of the crimes he’s been charged with were committed outside Libya, so there’s no reason whatsoever to try him outside Libya.’
But who cares what Libyans think? They may have suffered under the Gaddafi regime for four decades, watched Saif Gaddafi wag his finger and threaten ‘rivers of blood’ unless they ceased any rebel activity, seen their once-developed country reduced to rubble, and lost many friends and loved ones in the 2011 uprisings, but they are apparently incapable of bringing the late dictator’s favourite son to justice.
At least, that seems to be the view of Western human-rights outfits demanding that Gaddafi Junior be immediately shipped from his current place of imprisonment - in the western Libyan mountain town of Zintan - to The Hague to face trial by the International Criminal Court (ICC). As a spokesperson for Amnesty International wrote in the Huffington Post, this ‘wayward’ behaviour from the Libyan government - that is, the desire to try Saif themselves - is nothing but ‘the product of go-it-alone justice, with the Libyan authorities ignoring repeated pleas from the International Criminal Court to transfer the case to The Hague’.
How dare Libyans ‘go it alone’ in deciding the fate of Saif Gaddafi? Do they not realise they need help? Lacking sufficient direction, any attempt they make at a fair trial will, according to Amnesty, inevitably be ‘a hole-in-the-wall affair compared to the carefully handled one Libya needs’. It will amount to ‘second-rate victor’s justice in Libya’.
It seems that in order for a truly ‘first-rate’ legal trial, Saif must be prised from the fervoured grip of the bloodthirsty Libyan people and handed over to professionals at The Hague. Some observers, like Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, at least try to empathise with the fact that Libyans want to carry out justice for themselves. Yet there is still a sting in the tail: ‘It is understandable that the authorities may want to proceed promptly and try [Saif] in Libya’, she wrote recently. ‘But such trials today will not serve justice…. [He] should be handed over to the ICC immediately’, she says.