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Legalbrief   |   your legal news hub Monday 22 April 2019

ICC seeks UN support to net fugitives

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor has requested help from the UN Security Council to arrest three fugitives in Libya, including a son of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi. And in an unrelated matter, Legalbrief reports that there has been a significant breakthrough in the high-profile abduction of a Libyan couple with the UK finally admitting that it played a role. Addressing the UN in New York last week, Fatou Bensouda noted that ICC investigators had travelled to Libya in March for the first time since June 2012 to help advance investigations on alleged war crimes. 'I repeat my call to this council to engage with my office and lend your support in assisting with strategies for the arrest and surrender of ICC fugitives in Libya. Greater deterrence can only be assured through the arrest and surrender of suspects to the ICC so that they may answer the charges against them,' a report on the News24 quotes her as saying. Among those targeted is Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, whose whereabouts have been unknown since June 2014. Bensouda said she was unsure whether he was being held. A report on the Fox News site notes that the Security Council referred Libya to the ICC in February 2011 during Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's bloody crackdown against anti-government protesters. The uprising against Gaddafi's 42-year rule quickly escalated into civil war, and ended in October 2011 with his capture and death.

Meanwhile, the UK has reached a settlement with former Libyan dissident Abdul Hakim Belhaj over a long-running rendition case. BBC News reports that Belhaj claims MI6 helped the US kidnap him in Thailand in 2004 to return him and his wife to Libya, where he says he was tortured. The settlement terms are not known, but Belhaj has previously demanded an apology and a token £1 in damages. A leading opponent of Gaddafi, Belhaj said he was abducted in Bangkok with his pregnant wife while attempting to fly to London to claim UK asylum. The move marks a rare admission of wrongdoing by British spies. Attorney-General Jeremy Wright told lawmakers that Prime Minister Theresa May had apologised ‘unreservedly’ to the couple, acknowledging that Britain's actions ‘contributed to your detention, rendition and suffering’. A report on the News24 site notes that Belhaj, a former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group that had opposed Gaddafi, and Fatima Boudchar were kidnapped in Thailand in 2004 and sent to Libya. The report notes that Belhaj and Boudchar say a tip-off from British intelligence helped the CIA abduct them and have spent years pursuing British officials through UK courts seeking compensation and an apology.

In another development, Libya will this week return to Egypt the bodies of 20 Egyptian Christians killed in 2015 by Isis militants in its former stronghold of Sirte. A report on the eNCA site notes that the bodies were recovered in October after the area in which they were buried was recaptured from the jihadist group. The Coptic Christians were beheaded on a beach in February 2015 wearing orange jumpsuits. A Libyan official noted that one of the victims was from Ghana.