A court in Libya on Tuesday sentenced a son of former ruler Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Silam to death along with eight others for war crimes that included killings during the revolution in 2011 that ended the rule of his father.
The former regime officials that were sentenced to death by a firing squad included Abdullah al-Senussi the former chief of intelligence and Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi the former prime minister, said prosecutors during a Tripoli news conference.
The trial’s sentences drew widespread criticism from abroad, with a prominent lawyer and Human Rights Watch saying the trial had been laced with legal flaws and held amidst widespread lawlessness that undermined the judiciary credibility.
Eight other ex-officials were given sentences of life in prison while seven were given 12 years apiece. Four of the 37 on trial were acquitted, while others were given jail terms of less time.
Muammar Gaddafi was killed by Libyan rebels, who had captured him, after he had been on the run for months.
The charges against the defendants were not spelled out for which the verdict had been based. The defendants were accused of a number of offenses, including using deadly force on unarmed demonstrators and corruption.
The Saif al-Islam verdict was given in absentia in the nation’s capital, as he has been held captive since 2011 by a rebel group in the mountainous region of Zintan, which is beyond control of the central government.
Saif appeared in a video link at the beginning of the Tripoli trial, but the Zintanis refused to hand him back to authorities saying they do not trust the authorities but agreed to allow him to be tried in the capital.
The sentences can and likely will be appealed, must receive confirmation by the Supreme Court of Libya. However, legal experts and advocates for human rights said the trial was tainted as well as politicized from the beginning.
HRW said that the defense lawyers did not have timely or complete access to files in the case and that several were unable to meet with their clients privately, while two stepped down after being threatened.