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Libya: Source claims Saif Al-Islam fears for life as trial begins - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Officials of the former Muammar Gaddafi government sit behind bars during a hearing at a courtroom in Tripoli September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Officials of the former Muammar Gaddafi government sit behind bars during a hearing at a courtroom in Tripoli on September 19, 2013. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi expressed fears for his life after the government ordered that he be transferred to Tripoli from Zintan, where he appeared before the Court of First Instance on Thursday, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.

A source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said Saif Al-Islam had told his guards that he “might be killed or kidnapped by unknown groups in revenge for what happened during the Libyan revolution.”

Libya’s prosecutor-general, Abdulqader Radwan, had ordered Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to be transferred to Tripoli to stand trial with other members of the former regime.

On Thursday, Saif Al-Islam appeared before the Zintan Court of First Instance on charges of communicating with foreign sides to damage Libya’s national security. Security was tight at the court, and Saif Al-Islam appeared in the dock wearing a blue uniform and was flanked by two masked guards in bullet-proof vests.

The Zintan judge adjourned the case until December 12 at the request of the defense, in order to allow the other defendants to appear before the court.

Saif Al-Islam is being held by the Zintan Brigade in a heavily guarded facility, and his detention is being supervised by the government.

The head of the Zintan Brigade, Mukhtar Al-Akhdar, had previously told Asharq Al-Awsat that he prefers that Saif Al-Islam remains in Zintan for security reasons.

Akhdar said that Saif Al-Islam is being treated well. “[His condition] is normal and he does not have any medical problems,” Akhdar said.

The Zintan Brigade has been criticized for refusing to hand Saif Al-Islam over to the Libyan authorities and for imposing preconditions on any trial of former ruler Muammar Gaddafi’s son in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

However, Akhdar denied this, saying that such “false claims are aimed at damaging the reputation of the rebels and offending them.”

He told Asharq AL-Awsat: “We are a part of the Libyan people and proud of our role in eliminating the former regime,” adding, “We do not have any aspirations and we have never bargained with the government.”

Meanwhile, the first session of a trial involving 37 defendants affiliated with the Gaddafi regime began on Thursday in Tripoli.

The closed-door session was held at Hadba Prison in the south of Tripoli.

The defendants included Libyan Revolutionary Command Council member Mustafa Al-Kharoubi, head of the last government under Gaddafi, Baghdadi Mahmudi, and Libya’s former spy chief, Abdullah Al-Senussi.

The defendants face charges of genocide, vandalism, ordering the death of protesters, using mercenaries, provoking strife, and incitement to murder.

The hearing was adjourned until October 3.