TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The civilian trials of senior officials in Muammar Gaddafi’s former government will begin in early June with his former spy chief, Libya’s prosecutor general said on Thursday.
The trials are being seen as a test of the new government’s ability to try higher-profile Gaddafi loyalists and family members, including his son, Saif al-Islam - who could yet be transferred to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
“The trial of Buzeid Dorda and the other symbols of the former regime will begin on June 5 in a courthouse in Tripoli,” Prosecutor-General Abdul Azizi al-Hassadi told Reuters.
Dorda, who was arrested last September in Tripoli, would be the first senior Gaddafi official put on trial in Libya since a popular revolution ousted the former government last year.
A transitional government appointed in November to lead Libya to elections is struggling to impose order on the myriad armed groups that toppled Gaddafi last year.
The government has been keen to try Gaddafi’s family members and loyalists at home, but human rights activists worry that a weak central government and a lack of rule of law could rob them of the right to a fair trial.
If the International Criminal Court rules Libya is unwilling or unable to try Saif al-Islam, who is accused of crimes against humanity over the killing of civilian protesters, it says it will take jurisdiction of the case.
Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s most prominent son, was captured by militia fighters in November.
Dorda had been with Gaddafi since he first seized power in a 1969 coup. He was known as a technocrat, and not an intelligence officer by training. Libyans do not associate him with some of the earlier and bloodiest periods in Gaddafi’s autocracy such as the 1980s. He is believed to have taken on his job in 2009.
Writing By Hadeel Al-Shalchi; Reporting By Ali Shuaib; Editing by Myra MacDonald