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Libya Postpones Trial Against 41 Gaddafi Loyalists
06/02/2012 14:03:00
Libya started and then swiftly postponed court proceedings on Sunday against 41 Libyans accused of helping Muammar Gaddafi crush the popular revolt that ended in his death last year, Libyan news agency LANA said on Sunday. The trial has been postponed to February 15.

The news agency said that the decision to affect the postponement of the trial at a military base in the eastern city of Benghazi was made in the wake of listening to defence panel pleadings that argued that the military court is not a competent entity and called for referring the case to the civil judiciary.

The 41 men face charges of murder and aiding prisoners to escape.

A spokesman for the national Transitional Council, NTC, in Benghazi said that the delay the delay is based on the requests of the 15-lawyer defence team to review the evidence, and also on the requests of some detainees who want to hire their own lawyers.

On of the defence lawyers, who is defending five of the accused, Hussein Gheniwa, said the military court was "not competent" to handle the case.

"We hope that in the next session the question of the court's competency will be addressed. We are confident that the court will decide that it is not competent," he told AFP.

But he expressed optimism over Libya's justice system, saying "the legal proceedings will not be influenced by public opinion" which at the moment is strong given the fact that it is a trial of pro-Gaddafi men.

Libya is currently also preparing to bring to trial one of the former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's sons, Seif al-Islam who was captured by militias in November.

The International Criminal Court, ICC, has also been seeking to hold his trial in The Hague, saying that before bringing him to trial, where he could face the death penalty, Libya will first have to answer concerns, raised by activists, that Seif was being held without access to lawyers. It is also requesting Libya to provide information about his mental and physical health.

If the war crimes court rules Libya is unwilling or unable to try Seif al-Islam, who is accused of crimes against humanity over the killing of civilian protesters, it says it will take jurisdiction.

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