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article imageSaif Gaddafi denied access to lawyer

By Katerina Nikolas     Dec 21, 2011 in World
Human Rights Watch has been allowed to visit Saif Gaddafi, imprisoned in Zintan, Libya. Reporting that Gaddafi was receiving food and medical care, a representative of HRW also revealed that Gaddafi has been denied access to a lawyer.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has been imprisoned in Zintan since his capture in the southern Sahara on Nov. 19. Whilst Libyan authorities and International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo have wrangled over the jurisidiction of Gaddafi's trial, Saif has been held without access to a lawyer.
On Sunday a representative from Human Rights Watch. Fred Abrahams, was allowed a 30 minute visit with Gaddafi. According to Alarabiya Abrahams issued a statement following the brief visit that said Saif "says he is getting good food and medical care - he had no complaints about the physical conditions of his detention. His main concern was the lack of access to family and to a lawyer who can help his case.” Abrahams was also able to confirm that Saif has had the necessary amputation on his fingers to prevent gangrene spreading.
Libyan authorities have contravened international standards by refusing Saif access to a lawyer. Of course Saif is not alone amongst the estimated 8,000 prisoners held by the Libyan authorities to have no legal representation. However in the case of such a high profile prisoner whom the world is interested in, the breach of international standards does nothing to enhance the reputation of the new Libyan government, already accused of torturing prisoners.
The New York Times reported that Abrahams said "The new Libya should be about giving prisoners and detainees their rights. They should give him the rights that his father denied to Libyans for so long. That would be a legal and moral victory for the new Libyan authorities, to say, ‘We will not behave like you.’ ”
Abdul Aziz al-Hasadi, general prosecutor in Libya, has visited Saif in Zintan. He has said that Saif will have access to a lawyer when he is moved from Zintan to Tripoli. Libya is insisting on the right to hold the trial in Tripoli rather than in the Hague. Prior to his arrest Saif stated that he did not recognize the authority of the ICC, but it is unlikely he would receive a fair trial in Libya.
Al-Hasadi's deputy, Abdul Majid Saad, said Gaddafi "can have a local or an international lawyer, and they can come make sure the procedures we use will all be fair, and that can happen starting now." However he tempered his remarks by saying it would not be easy to find a lawyer willing to represent Saif "considering the way his family is viewed in the country."
More about Saif Gaddafi, Human rights watch, Abdul Aziz alHasadi
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