Libyan Journalist, Poet and Political Activist.
Founder of the Doha based Libyan TV Channel; Libya for the Free - ليبيا لكل ألاحرار
الأحد، 4 مايو 2014
Libya _ Amal Alamuddin faces a very different engagement in Libya trial*
Amal Alamuddin: 'The
ICC made its decision despite the fact that Libya did not allow us a
single visit to Senussi.' Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
Amal Alamuddin was pictured across the world last month after the announcement of her engagement to George Clooney
after a whirlwind romance. Soon she could return to the front pages in a
more controversial role – when she stands up in court to represent Muammar Gaddafi's notorious spy chief in a case that could scupper the reputation of the international criminal court.
al Senussi is no one's idea of a poster boy for justice. As Gaddafi's
intelligence chief and right-hand man for four decades, the 64-year-old
supervised torture, assassinations and town-square hangings.
Libyans blame him for the massacre of 1,200 inmates at Tripoli's Abu
Salem prison, a Paris court has convicted him in absentia for the
bombing of a French airliner in 1989, and Scottish police are to
interview him over allegations of masterminding the Lockerbie bombing.
He fled Libya
during the 2011 Arab spring revolution, but was caught in Mauritania
and returned to Libya. And that is where the trouble began.
was charged – along with Gaddafi's playboy son, Saif al-Islam – with
war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC. Under the rules of
the United Nations, which ordered the case, the Hague court was to hold
the trial unless Libya could prove itself capable of doing the job
itself. In October, Libya was given that approval, despite allegations
that Senussi had been mistreated, and Libya's refusal to let Alamuddin
or any of his ICC-appointed defence team visit him, which she says
should have been a red flag to the Hague.
"A scary precedent has been set," she told the Observer. "The ICC made its decision despite the fact that Libya did not allow us a single visit to Senussi."
a high-flier in the close-knit world of international lawyers,
Alamuddin was hired for the case by Ben Emmerson QC, with whom she had
already worked defending the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. Born in
Beirut to a journalist mother and travel agent father, the 36-year-old
barrister had already gained a high profile as an adviser to former UN
secretary general Kofi Annan and was picked by William Hague for a panel
investigating rape as a war crime.
Her decision to work as legal
adviser to Bahrain's king, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, who has been blamed
by rights groups for systematic torture and repression, raised
eyebrows, but sources at her chambers in Doughty Street, London, say she
is a tough, combative lawyer with experience gained as a prosecutor on
the UN's Lebanon war crimes tribunal.
When she failed to get a
visa for Libya, or even permission to speak to her client by phone, she
sought out Senussi's daughter, Anoud, who was kidnapped and jailed in
Tripoli after visiting her father in prison, and later fled to London .
Senussi appeal hearing against the Hague's decision to back Libya cuts
to the very heart of what the ICC is supposed to be. Conceived as a
"world court", its mission is to set a benchmark for global justice. In
backing Libya, that reputation stands to be badly tarnished.
began the trial of Senussi and Saif al-Islam last month amid chaotic
conditions. Senussi, haggard and emaciated in blue prison garb, appeared
with other defendants in a steel cage and complained that Libya had
broken a promise to the Hague to find him a lawyer.
refused to let him see the evidence against him (he could face the death
penalty). The militia of Zintan refused to hand over Saif al-Islam, and
the militia of Misrata refused to hand over another eight defendants,
while six more were simply missing. Militiamen guarding the Al Hadba
prison, where the trial is being held, refused to human rights officials
access. Emmerson condemned it as "a show trial without a trace of due
Amaluddin has waited six months for ICC
judges to give a date for the appeal. When they do, the issue of defence
lawyers will be central. "The Hague court penalises us for not being in
a position to give details of all the violations against our client,
but there are details we cannot provide because we can't get to see
him," she told the Observer.
After 12 years in existence
and costing a billion dollars, the ICC has, because of bureaucracy and
delays, secured just a single conviction, that of Congolese warlord
Germain Katanga. The Senussi appeal hearing promised to be a landmark
day, with the Libya process condemned by Amnesty International, the UN's
panel on torture and the African Union's court.
"The whole point
of the ICC is to be there when national systems can't do the job, said
Alamuddin "Instead, it is giving a flawed, dangerous process the stamp
With the Senussi case active, Alamuddin will not be
drawn on why she is defending a man many think deserves all he gets. One
clue comes from fellow Doughty Street lawyer John Jones QC, who is
defending Saif al-Islam: "Justice needs defence lawyers. The system only
works if there's robust advocacy on both sides."