TRIPOLI, Libya – A court in Libya's capital convicted a son of Muammar Qaddafi of murder and inciting genocide during the country's 2011 uprising on Tuesday, sentencing him to death in absentia.
The Tripoli court that sentenced Seif al-Islam, who is being held by a militia that refuses to hand him over to the central government, also sentenced to death eight others, including former Libyan spy chief Abdullah al-Senoussi, who is in government custody.
It was unclear whether the sentences in the mass trial of 38 Qaddafi-era figures, only 29 of whom were present, would be carried out. Six others were sentenced to life in prison and four were cleared of charges.
Libya has slid into chaos since the overthrow and killing of Qaddafi. It is now bitterly divided between an elected parliament and government cornered in the country's east, with little power on the ground, and an Islamist militia-backed government in the west that has seized Tripoli.
Since the end of the civil war, Seif al-Islam has been held by a militia in Zintan, which is allied with the Tobruk-based internationally recognized government against the Tripoli one. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity.
During the trial, Seif al-Islam was accused of recruiting mercenaries who were given Libyan nationality, planning and carrying out attacks on civilian targets from the air, forming armed groups and shooting into crowds of demonstrators. Among the charges he was convicted of were incitement of murder and rape.
Hundreds of militias in Libya are battling for power and turf in a lawless environment has allowed human traffickers and kidnappers to flourish.
The U.N. envoy for Libya, meanwhile, has urged the Islamist-led government in Tripoli to sign a peace deal that would establish a unity government. Members of the Tobruk government and regional leaders signed the unity accord in Morocco on July 11.
Also sentenced to death were foreign intelligence chief Abu-Zeid Omar-Dawarda and Qaddafi's former Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.