Zintan, Libya - The trial of Moammar Khaddafy's son Saif al-Islam has become a sign of the trouble Libya's central government is having asserting its authority. A militia-run prison failed to transfer Saif to Tripoli for an arraignment hearing on alleged crimes committed during the 2011 war that toppled his father. Instead, he appeared for a hearing in the western town of Zintan on separate charges Thursday.
Zintan is where Saif al-Islam has been held since he was captured by militia forces at the end of the Libyan conflict. The Zintan hearing is centered on accusations an international court delegation smuggled documents and a camera into Saif al-Islam. It was adjourned until December 12th over "lack of evidence." Court officials in Tripoli say they want answers as to why Saif was not transferred to the capital for the hearing there.
In Tripoli, Libya's former spy chief along with other officials in Khaddafy's government appeared in court Thursday. Former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi is charged with crimes related to the country's uprising in 2011 and with ordering a massacre of prisoners in 1996. Thirty other former officials were also in court including two former prime ministers and a deputy foreign minister.
Senussi is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges that he ordered brutal reprisals during the Libyan uprising. But in Libya he's also charged with the 1996 massacre of more than 1,200 prisoners in Tripoli. He's also been linked to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people. He was arrested last year after arriving with a fake Malian passport on a flight to Mauritania from Morocco.
The International Criminal Court wants both Senussi and Khaddafy's son to be tried in the Hague, but the Libyan government wants to show the world it can give them a fair trial. Both men face death sentences if convicted.