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Libya

Ex-Gadhafi officials appear at trial in Libya, sons absent

In Libya, a trial against the sons of former leader Moammar Gadhafi and more than 30 of his ex-officials has been adjourned. The group faces charges relating to crimes allegedly committed during Libya's uprising.

The men are accused of various crimes, including murder and kidnapping related to the 2011 uprising that led to the ouster and killing of Moammar Gadhafi.They have also been accused of embezzlement of public funds.

Two of Gaddafi's sons that are facing trial, Saif al-Islam and Saadi Gadhafi, did not appear in the courtroom at a prison in the capital Tripoli. The other defendants, including ex-spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi and former Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, sat in blue jumpsuits behind a fenced-off section (seen above).

Many complained to the judge that they had not been given proper access to lawyers.

"I want to be treated like other prisoners. I want visiting rights. I don't have a lawyer," al-Senussi said.

Saif al-Islam had been expected to appear by video link in the courtroom. He has been in custody since November 2011, when rebels arrested him shortly after his father's death, while Saadi Gadhafi was extradited from Niger earlier this month, where he had sought refuge.

Legal and human rights concerns

The group Human Rights Watch has taken issue with what it has described as "procedural flaws" at the trial, including limited access to lawyers by the defendants.

"The case has been riddled with procedural flaws right from the beginning, which have made it grossly unfair to the defendants," said the organization's international justice director, Richard Dicker. "Putting Gadhafi-era officials on trial without fair trial guarantees shouldn't leave anyone satisfied that justice is being done."

Libya's justice minister, Salah al-Merghani, has insisted the proceedings would not turn into a "show trial" and that it would be fair, highlighting the fact that it was open to the public.

"I will not allow any crazy stuff, I will make sure it meets international standards ... that is why we are having open trials," al-Merghani told Reuters.

"We heard there were complaints from the lawyers. The court will see if the complaints are genuine or not," he added.

The trial will resume on April 27 while investigators finish their cases with some of the defendants.

jr/dr (Reuters, dpa)