UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Libyan government must surrender the son and onetime heir-apparent of slain dictator Moammar Gadhafi to the International Criminal Court despite its appeal of the handover and legal proceedings under way in Libya, the court's prosecutor said Tuesday.
Fatou Bensouda told the U.N. Security Council it was "a source of great concern" that Libya did not immediately hand over Seif al-Islam Gadhafi to the ICC as it was required to do following a ruling by pre-trial judges last year that he must be prosecuted at the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands for crimes against humanity.
Libya has argued that Seif al-Islam should be prosecuted in his own country.
Last month he appeared at a trial in the capital, Tripoli, by video link from the city of Zintan, where he has been held by a militia since his capture in November 2011.
Bensouda told the council that "national judicial proceedings can never be an excuse for failure to comply" with an order from the ICC, even if the Libyan government is appealing the tribunal's decision to try Seif al-Islam in The Hague and not at home.
While the ICC is insisting on prosecuting Gadhafi's son, it gave Libya a green light last October to prosecute former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi for crimes against humanity related to his alleged involvement in the deadly crackdown on Gadhafi opponents.
Al-Senoussi, who is detained by the government in Tripoli, has appealed the decision to be tried at home and not by the ICC.
Bensouda expressed concern at the slow pace of al-Senoussi's trial and urged the Libyan government to move ahead "without undue delay."
Libya's U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi made no mention of handing over Seif al-Islam.
He told the council that Libya's judicial authorities want the ICC to recognize their jurisdiction to try him — and to reiterate their jurisdiction over al-Senoussi.
On a related issue, Bensouda called on the government to get rid of illegal detention centers, saying they have no place in "modern Libya." She called reports of torture and mistreatment in these facilities "worrying."
"While the number of detainees requiring transfer to proper government-controlled detention facilities has reportedly dropped from 8,000 to 7,000, the process of transfer of prisoners to state-controlled detention centers has to be speeded up," she said.
Dabbashi said as part of efforts to improve the situation of detainees, the justice minister has conducted a census and determined that there are 6,186, including 646 who are serving sentences.
"The Libyan authorities are trying their best to expedite the trials of the other detainees," he said, but are facing "grave challenges" in speeding them up.