One of the highest-profile trials, which began at the end of last year, involves former prime minister Baghdadi Ali Mahmoudi, charged with ordering government forces to commit mass rape during the uprising, and also with corruption. If convicted, he could face the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Other former officials awaiting trial include Ali Mohamed Marya, who was ambassador to Egypt, and former government spokesman Mohamed Ibrahim Mansour, although the allegations against them relate to alleged corruption rather than human rights abuses.
BUILDING EFFECTIVE LEGAL MECHANISMS
Last year, a Libyan judge suspended the trial of former intelligence official Buzeid Dorda, who was charged with killing civilians and provoking civil war. The judge said the prosecutor’s office had failed to follow correct procedures.
The case highlights one of the central challenges – the extent to which police, investigators and prosecutors are in a position to gather and use evidence of past abuses.
“The biggest problem in the country is that there is a central government but no central power,” said Stefan Schmitt, director of the international forensics programme at Physicians for Human Rights. He has spent time in Libya gathering forensic evidence relating to crimes, some of which has been submitted to the ICC.
“Just because the prime minister in Tripoli makes a decision does not mean it will be executed in Benghazi. If you have no centralised power, then you have a big problem with collecting evidence, storing it and processing it. In the short term, this is going to present some serious difficulties that I would urge the authorities to admit to and ask for some help on.”
Fiona Mangan, a policy officer with the United States Institute of Peace, says there is an urgent need to improve investigative procedures.