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ICC accepts Seif Al Islam trial in Libya: minister


Libya said Monday the International Criminal Court has accepted that Seif Al Islam, slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi's son, will be tried by Libyans, a claim which was quickly denied by the tribunal.

"The ICC has accepted that Seif al-Islam will be tried in Libya by the Libyan judiciary," Libya's Justice Minister Ali H'mida Ashur told AFP.

"The trial will take place in Libya. The Libyan justice is competent and we gave the file (on Seif) to the ICC on Friday," Ashur added.

The Hague-based ICC, however, denied Ashur's claims.

"The ICC has made no decision on this matter," court spokesman Fadi el-Abdallah told AFP.

Seif, who was arrested on November 19, is in the custody of the military council of Zintan, a town 180 kilometres (110 miles), southwest of Tripoli.

He is also wanted by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the conflict in Libya.

The ICC had given Libya until January 23 to mull the possible handing over of Seif al-Islam.

Last month ICC judges had called on Libya's new leaders to inform them as a matter of urgency if and when they intend to hand over Seif and set a January 10 deadline for a response.

But later in a letter, Libya asked for an extension, citing security situation in the country even as it expressed its intentions to prosecute Seif on Libyan soil.

The New-York based Human Rights Watch, in its World Report 2012, has raised concerns over Libya's judicial system.

"Libya's interim government and its international supporters should make it an urgent priority to build a functioning justice system and begin legal reform that protects human rights after Moamer Kadhafi," the group said in the report.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch said in the report that "independent courts and the rule of law will help ensure stability in a country emerging from four decades of dictatorship and eight months of war."