Q+A-How prosecution of Saif al-Islam would play out

AMSTERDAM Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:03am EDT

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Saif al-Islam, the son of Libya's slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi, is trying to negotiate his surrender to the International Criminal Court, a source with the National Transitional Council told Reuters on Thursday.

How would the legal process unfold?

WHAT IS SAIF AL-ISLAM CHARGED WITH?

The ICC charged Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam and Libya's former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi with crimes against humanity for the shooting and killing of civilians protesters in February.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has said Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam and al-Senussi drew up a "predetermined plan" to kill protesters and that Gaddafi gave the orders, while Saif al-Islam organised the recruitment of mercenaries.

Moreno-Ocampo has said his office has documented how the three suspects held meetings to plan the operations.

WHERE WOULD HE BE DETAINED?

If arranged, Saif al-Islam would need to be transported to The Hague where the court shares a detention center with the U.N.'s Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal.

INITIAL APPEARANCE

Once in The Hague, Saif al-Islam would be required to make an initial appearance in court, where he would be formally charged and informed of his rights.

He has the opportunity to hire his own defense lawyer or to have defense counsel assigned to him with court funding.

CONFIRMATION OF CHARGES

At a later date, Saif al-Islam would have the opportunity to appear at a confirmation of charges hearing, where prosecutors will need to prove there is sufficient evidence for him to stand trial.

It is not compulsory for him to appear at such a hearing, but he can use the hearing to object to the charges, challenge the evidence and present his own evidence.

It is not a trial and the standard of evidence needed to have the charges confirmed is lower than that required during the trial for an accused to be convicted.

Within 60 days of the end of the hearing, including any possible written submissions, the court must decide whether to drop the charges or order Saif al-Islam to stand trial.

WHEN WOULD A TRIAL START?

If the court orders the accused to stand trial, a date will be set and the accused must be present during the trial.

There is no set deadline for when ICC trials must start, but it could take more than a year before the trial would start. War crimes trials can also span several years.

It is likely that Saif al-Islam would be kept in The Hague pending the start of the case and during the trial proceedings.

WHAT SENTENCE DOES HE FACE?

Saif al-Islam faces a lengthy prison sentence if convicted. The ICC does not have the death penalty.

(Reporting By Aaron Gray-Block)

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