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Qaddafi's son faces Libyan court for first time on security charges

Seif Al Islam, the son of Libya's former leader, Muammar Qaddafi, has appeared for the first time in a Libyan court on charges of 'undermining state security'.

TRIPOLI // Seif Al Islam, the son of Libya's former leader, Muammar Qaddafi, appeared for the first time in a Libyan court yesterday on charges of "undermining state security", a judicial official said.

He was charged after a controversial visit to Libya in June by an International Criminal Court (ICC) team who were helping him prepare his defence against ICC charges of carrying out crimes against humanity during the conflict that overthrew his father.

Yesterday's trial was held behind closed doors in Zintan, a hilltop town south-west of Tripoli. Seif has been in custody there since his arrest in November 2011, after the uprising that ended Qaddafi's 40-year rule.

"The first hearing in the trial of Seif Al Islam Qaddafi on charges of undermining state security was held yesterday," said Taha Baraa, deputy prosecutor general.

The accusation was levelled against Seif after four ICC envoys who travelled to Zintan in June were detained for nearly a month, triggering a diplomatic row with The Hague-based court.

They were allowed to return home in July.

The envoys included Melinda Taylor, an Australian lawyer who was accused of carrying a pen that contained a camera and attempting to give Seif a coded letter from his former right-hand man, Mohammed Ismail, who is wanted by Libyan authorities.

Mr Baraa said the trial had been adjourned until May 2 as time was needed to inform the ICC staff of the charges against them, and to "designate a lawyer for Seif".

Yesterday's hearing came as the ICC considered a Libyan request to allow Seif and the former Libyan spy chief, Abdullah Senussi, to be tried at home instead of in The Hague.

Lawyers for Seif and Senussi have argued that they will not get a fair trial in Libya.

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