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Saif-Al-Islam Gaddafi case: ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I confirms case is admissible before the ICC


Today, 5 April 2019, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC), by majority, rejected the Admissibility Challenge presented by the Defence of Mr Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi. The Majority, constituted by Judge Péter Kovács and Judge Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou, decided that the case against Mr Gaddafi was admissible before the Court.

Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut will file a minority opinion in due course.  

On 6 June 2018, the Defence filed an Admissibility Challenge concerning the case against Mr Gaddafi asserting that, on 28 July 2015, Mr Gaddafi was convicted by the Tripoli Criminal Court for substantially the same conduct as alleged in the proceedings before the ICC. Mr Gaddafi further alleged that, on or around 12 April 2016, he was released from prison pursuant to Law No. 6 of 2015 which provided for a general amnesty. Thus, Mr Gaddafi submitted that the case against him on charges of crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the Court was inadmissible.

The Majority's determination was made after careful review of the different submissions and observations of the Defence, the Prosecutor, the Legal Representatives of Victims, the amici curiae, and previous filings from the Government of Libya.

The Majority found that in order for a second trial not to be permitted before this Court, for the same conduct, the decision of the Tripoli Criminal Court would have had to be final and acquire the effect of res judicata. The Majority was not satisfied that this requirement was met in the case at hand as the judgment of the Tripoli Criminal Court was still subject to appeal and was rendered in the absence of Mr Gaddafi (in absentia), which left open the possibility of reinstituting judicial proceedings.

The Majority was also not satisfied that the passing of Law No. 6 of 2015 rendered the case inadmissible before the Court. The Majority found that Mr Gaddafi was excluded from the amnesty and/or pardon provided by Law No. 6 of 2015. Even assuming that Law No. 6 of 2015 would apply to Mr Gaddafi, it still did not render proceedings final. According to the Majority, granting amnesties and pardons for serious acts such as murder constituting crimes against humanity is incompatible with internationally recognized human rights. Amnesties and pardons intervene with States' positive obligations to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of core crimes. In addition, they deny victims the right to truth, access to justice, and to request reparations where appropriate.

Decision on the Admissibility Challenge by Dr. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi pursuant to Articles 17(1)(c), 19 and 20(3) of the Rome Statute

Background: The situation in Libya was referred to the ICC Prosecutor by the United Nations Security Council in its Resolution 1970. On 3 March 2011, the Prosecutor announced the opening of an investigation in the situation in Libya, which was assigned by the Presidency to Pre-Trial Chamber I.

On 27 June 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I issued three warrants of arrest respectively for Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi for crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) allegedly committed across Libya from 15 until at least 28 February 2011, through the State apparatus and Security Forces. On 22 November 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I formally terminated the case against Muammar Gaddafi due to his death. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi are not in the custody of the Court.

On 31 May 2013, Pre-Trial Chamber I rejected Libya's challenge to the admissibility of the case against Saif Al Islam Gaddafi and reminded Libya of its obligation to surrender the suspect to the Court. On 21 May 2014, the Appeals Chamber upheld Pre-Trial Chamber I's decision. 

On 11 October 2013, Pre-Trial Chamber I decided that the case against Abdullah Al-Senussi is inadmissible before the ICC as it was currently subject to domestic proceedings conducted by the Libyan competent authorities and that Libya is willing and able genuinely to carry out such investigation. On 24 July 2014, the Appeals Chamber confirmed Pre-Trial Chamber I's decision.

Further information on this case is available here.

For further information, please contact Fadi El Abdallah, Spokesperson and Head of Public Affairs Unit, International Criminal Court, by telephone at: +31 (0)70 515-9152 or +31 (0)6 46448938 or by e-mail at: [email protected]

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