The former Gaddafi regime officials sentenced to die by firing squad included former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and ex-prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, said Sadiq al-Sur, chief investigator at the Tripoli state prosecutor’s office.
The trial and outcome drew condemnation abroad, with Human Rights Watch (HRW) and a prominent international lawyer saying it was riddled with flaws and carried out amid lawlessness that undermined the credibility of the judiciary.
Eight ex-officials received life sentences and seven jail terms of 12 years each, Sadiq said. Four of the 37 defendants were acquitted, others got shorter jail terms.
Sadiq did not spell out the charges on which the verdict was based, saying this should await the expected written ruling.
Defendants had been accused of a range of offences, including war crimes and crimes against humanity involving the use of deadly force to suppress demonstrations, as well as corruption.
The verdict on Saif al-Islam was passed in absentia since he has been held since 2011 by a former rebel group in Zintan, a mountainous western region beyond central government control. Internal conflict has split Libya into factional fiefdoms.
Dressed in blue prison uniforms and seated in a black cage, 29 of the defendants, including Senussi and Mahmoudi, were present for yesterday’s verdict. One of them began shouting after the ruling was read out before being led away.
Other defendants were being held in Misrata, a western city loyal to the current authorities in Tripoli.
Saif appeared by video link only at the start of the trial. The Zintanis have refused to hand him over, saying they do not trust authorities in Tripoli to make sure he does not escape.
The sentences can be appealed and must be confirmed by Libya’s Supreme Court, but legal experts and rights advocates said the proceeding was tainted and politicised from the start.
HRW said defence lawyers lacked full and timely access to files and several had been unable to meet with clients in private, while two had quit after receiving threats.