A son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has been sentenced to death with eight other defendants for crimes committed during a peaceful anti-regime uprising in 2011. Seif al-Islam was sentenced in absentia.
The eight sentenced to death by the court in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Tuesday included not only Seif al-Islam, Gadhafi's most prominent son, but former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi and former Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.
They were found guilty of crimes connected with the repression of peaceful protests during the country's 2011 revolution, which finally led to Gadhafi's ouster and death.
The verdict on al-Islam was passed in absentia, as he has been held since 2011 in the southwestern hill town of Zintan by a militia opposed to the Tripoli authorities. The group is loyal instead to the internationally recognized government, which is located in the remote east after fleeing there last August when a rival militia alliance captured the city and set up its own administration.
Al-Islam's sole appearances before the court have been by video link. There have been none since May last year.
Al-Islam is also wanted by the International Crimminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICC has repeatedly called on Libya in vain to hand him over.
ICC prosecutors say that al-Islam, who belonged to the former dictator's inner circle, "conceived and orchestrated a plan to deter and quell, by all means, the civilian demonstrations against Gadhafi's regime."
Gadhafi himself was captured and killed in October 2011 by members of a rebel militia during Libya's civil war of that year.
The trial in Tripoli, which began in April last year, has been critized by human rights watchdogs, who noted the limited acces of the accused to lawyers and key documents.
The US-based group Human Rights Watch said the trial had been "undermined by serious due process violations" and called for an independent review of the verdict by the Supreme Court.
tj/jil (AFP, Reuters)