Prosecutor: Qaddafi Son to Be Tried in Libya

The International Criminal Court won't challenge Libya's right to try Muammar Qaddafi's son and one-time heir apparent in his own country and with Libyan judges, the prosecutor said Wednesday.

The announcement clears the way for Seif al-Islam, the only Qaddafi family member in Libyan custody, to answer for the alleged crimes of his late father's four-decade rule over the oil-rich North African nation.

The Netherlands-based ICC has charged Seif al-Islam and ex-intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi with crimes against humanity for unleashing the brutal crackdown on an uprising that began in February and spiraled into a civil war. Muammar Qaddafi also was charged, but the case has been terminated following his death in late October.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo told reporters that Libya will help establish the judicial framework for the trial, which many expect to be a bellwether of the new Libyan government's ability to uphold the rule of law. The country also is struggling to build its judicial system and other governmental institutions practically from scratch after nearly 42 years of erratic rule by one man.

International rights groups have called on Libya to hand both men to the ICC for trial at The Hague, but Libya's new leaders have insisted he face justice at home even though they have yet to set up a strong court system.

"Libya is now established, it is a new government and they have the right to prosecute Seif and Senoussi here and in according with our rules the primacy is with the national system. If they conduct the proceedings, the court will not intervene," Moreno-Ocampo told reporters during a visit to Tripoli.

"The point is that for Libya, and I respect that, it is very important to do the cases in Libya. This is a right and I have nothing to say. I'm not competing for the case," he added, expressing hope it would be a fair trial.

Seif al-Islam -- who has undergone a stunning transformation from a voice of reform in an eccentric and reviled regime to supporting his father in trying to stop the uprising -- was captured Saturday by fighters from Zintan who had tracked him to the southern desert. He was then flown back to Zintan, 85 miles southwest of Tripoli, shown in pictures with a bandaged hand that he later said was from a NATO airstrike.

The International Committee of the Red Cross visited Seif al-Islam there on Tuesday and said he appeared to be in good health. Steven Anderson, a spokesman for the Geneva-based body, said the visit "took place in accordance with the ICRC's customary working procedures" and all further findings would remain confidential.

An ICRC spokesman, Steven Anderson, said Wednesday that Seif al-Islam's injuries had been "taken care of" and the detainee had been seen by a Libyan doctor. Anderson was unable to say how the injury was sustained.

Officials with the governing National Transitional Council also had reported that al-Senoussi, who also is wanted by France over the 1989 bombing of French airliner, was captured over the weekend in the southern city of Sabha and was being held in a secret location.

However, more senior Libyan officials have cast doubt on the claim. Libyan Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi said Wednesday that he couldn't confirm that al-Senoussi was in custody.