THE HAGUE/TRIPOLI The International Criminal Court said Monday it has not decided whether Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the overthrown Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, should be tried in Libya, contradicting earlier comments by a Libyan minister.
Libya and the international war crimes court appear to be at loggerheads over where Saif al-Islam's trial should take place.
Depending on the outcome, Gaddafi's most prominent son could either face the death penalty in his home country, or the prospect of awaiting trial in a comfortable detention centre known as "The Hague Hilton" in the Netherlands, with no risk of capital punishment.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Saif al-Islam last year after prosecutors accused him and others of involvement in the killing of protesters during the revolt that eventually toppled his father in August.
But when militia fighters captured Saif al-Islam in November, Libya said it wanted to try him at home.
The ICC has given Libya a January 23 deadline to confirm whether and when it would surrender Saif al-Islam and to give information about his mental and physical health. It also asked Libya to answer concerns, raised by activists, that Saif al-Islam was being held incommunicado, without access to lawyers.
ICC spokesman Fadi El-Abdallah said that the court had received information Monday from Libya but declined to give details, saying it was confidential.
He added that the judges had not made a decision on whether Saif al-Islam could be tried in Libya, contradicting comments by Libya's minister of justice.
"Libya applied Friday to the ICC for Saif to be tried in a Libyan court. The ICC accepted," Minister of Justice Ali Humaida Ashour told Reuters Monday, adding that an investigation into Saif had yet to finish but his trial date would be announced when it had been completed.
(Reporting by Ali Shuaib in Tripoli and Sara Webb in The Hague; editing by Philippa Fletcher)