The first former senior official from the Muammar Gaddafi era to be put on trial in Libya said he had been denied the right to meet privately with a lawyer and undergone improper interrogations during 10 months in detention.
Libya’s transitional government is 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.
The trial of Buzeid Dorda, a former intelligence chief arrested shortly after Gaddafi’s overthrow by rebels last August, began on June 5 but then adjourned for procedural reasons. He returned to the dock on Tuesday and told the court that his legal case was a mockery of due process, Reuters reports.
“I should be allowed the right to a lawyer. Today marks ten months detention (for me) for no real reason especially since no (ordinary) Libyan has raised a charge against me,” he said.
“I am interrogated sometimes for more than seven hours at a time, by people not from the prosecutor general’s office, and they keep moving me from jail to jail during the process.
“I have asked to meet with the minister of justice because he is in charge of human rights,” Dorda added.
Dorda is charged with conspiring to kill civilians during last year’s anti-Gaddafi uprising, providing arms for the purpose of killing civilians, conspiring to provoke civil war, denying people their right to protest, unlawful detention and abuse of authority.
The judge on Tuesday postponed Dorda’s trial to the end of August at the request of his lawyers, who wanted more time to prepare their case.
Dorda’s case amounts to a test of the transitional authorities’ ability to try high profile, former Gaddafi loyalists and family members of the ousted dictator.
They want to try Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, who was captured in November and is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. If the ICC 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.
Dorda was with Gaddafi from the time he seized power in 1969. He was known as a technocrat, not an intelligence officer by training. Libyans do not associate him with some of the earlier, bloodiest periods in Gaddafi’s autocracy such as the 1980s. He is believed to have taken on his security job in 2009.
A national assembly election was held on Saturday, Libya’s first free vote in six decades and one designed to improve the legitimacy of a central government now run by former leaders of the rebels that ousted Gaddafi.
The assembly will appoint a caretaker prime minister and cabinet before preparing for parliamentary elections next year.