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TRIPOLI (AFP) – Ousted Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi's son appeared in court Thursday in Zintan where he is being held by ex-rebels on the same day he was due in Tripoli on security charges.
A lawyer said that Seif al-Islam, charged with undermining state security, appeared in the dock in Zintan west of the capital in a trial that was then adjourned.
"Seif al-Islam Kadhafi appeared before the Zintan court that decided to adjourn the trial until December 12 to allow the attendance of other accused in the case," the lawyer who was present in court told AFP.
Kadhafi's son had also been due at a pre-trial hearing in Tripoli on charges related to the 2011 uprising, but there were doubts that his captors in Zintan would allow this.
Prosecutor general Abdulqader Radwan said Wednesday he had ordered Seif transferred to the Tripoli court from Zintan, 180 kilometres (110 miles) to the southwest.
Kadhafi's former heir apparent and others including ex-intelligence supremo Abdullah al-Senussi are accused of crimes during the revolt in which he was ousted and killed.
Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, Kadhafi's last prime minister, and Mansur Daw, who headed the People's Guard, are also among the accused in one of the most important legal cases in Libyan history.
"We have sent a transfer order to the penal authorities concerned to send those persons implicated in Case Number 630, including Seif al-Islam," the prosecutor general told a Tripoli news conference.
Talks were reported late on Wednesday for Seif's transfer to Tripoli for a period of several hours, but there was no indication Thursday that this would happen.
The main charges against the suspects in Tripoli include murders committed during the regime's battle against the revolt that erupted in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Kadhafi was captured and killed by rebels in his hometown of Sirte in October 2011.
Seif was captured the following month by a group of former rebels from the mountainous region of Zintan, and has been held there ever since.
The North African country's interim authorities have tried several times to negotiate his transfer to Tripoli, but still insist that Seif is in state custody.
Deputy prosecutor general Siddiq al-Sur said Wednesday that all prisons come under the authority of the justice ministry.
"If the director of any such establishment refuses to obey orders, he will be pursued by the judiciary," he told reporters.
Asked about the coincidental court appearances, Sur said only that "the prosecutor general's office was not officially informed about the date of the trial" in Zintan.
Amnesty International has urged the "immediate" handover of both Seif al-Islam and Senussi to the International Criminal Court.
"The referral of these cases to the Indictment Chamber (in Tripoli) brings us one step closer to the start of national trial proceedings... in violation of Libya's legal obligation to surrender him to the ICC," it said.
"Libya's justice system is in desperate need of an overhaul. There are serious concerns about the authorities' ability to ensure fair trials compounded by the precarious security situation in the country."
The whole trial is seen by some Western observers as an act of defiance against the international court.
A total of 40,000 documents and 4,000 pages of interrogation transcripts will be considered by the court at a secret location in Tripoli.
The defendants face a string of charges, including the "formation of armed bands to carry out crimes that undermine state security" and "incitation to rape".