This article is from the archive of our partner .

Muammar Qaddafi's son and heir apparent, Saif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, is alive and in the custody of a Libyan rebel militia, but while he's physically well, his situation and his future are as uncertain as the status of Libya's own government. Qaddafi, who hasn't been heard from since he was captured Nov. 19, told Human Rights Watch researcher Fred Abrahams that he hadn't been given access to a lawyer nor had he been allowed to see his family as he awaited a trial on crimes against humanity. "No date has been set for his trial, nor is it clear whether he will be tried in Libya, whose justice system is in disarray, or by the International Criminal Court in The Hague," The New York Times reports. The ICC had issued an arrest warrant but Libya's transitional government wants Qaddafi to be tried in Libya. But after the treatment of his father, who was basically executed by the mob that found him, it's pretty unclear whether he'll get a fair shake. Being held without a lawyer enforces that fear. From The Times:

Rumors have circulated about the treatment of Mr. Qaddafi at the hands of the Zintan fighters, who were believed to be resisting efforts by the central government to take over his case. The office of the general prosecutor in Tripoli, Abdelaziz al-Hasadi, has jurisdiction, and gave Human Rights Watch clearance to visit Mr. Qaddafi. Mr. Abrahams was then taken to Zintan, where militia commanders appeared to be cooperating with the central authorities.

Mr. Abrahams said the arrangement showed how the situation in Libya was still evolving. “It is not accurate to say he is being held by a militia outside of government control, although it is not true that he is in a prison directly controlled by the government, either,” he said.

Libyan general prosecutor Abdul Majid Saad told The Times Qaddafi could hire a lawyer, but it's going to be hard for him to find someone to represent him in Libya, where his family is pretty much reviled, and with the isolation he's being held in, it doesn't sound like he's getting much of a chance to hire someone internationally.





This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to