The International Criminal Court on Wednesday rejected a final bid by Tripoli's lawyers to try slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi's son Seif al-Islam in Libya, meaning he must now be transferred to The Hague.
Seif's transfer to face charges relating to the bloody repression of the 2011 uprising that toppled his father however is a moot point as he is being held by a Libyan militia rather than any central authority in the chaos-wracked country.
The presiding ICC judge Erkki Kourulas struck down four grounds of appeal before the world's war crimes court, saying "in the present case the Appeals Chamber confirms the (pre-trial chamber's) decision and dismisses the appeal."
ICC pre-trial judges a year ago rejected Tripoli's request to put Seif in the dock in Libya, saying the country was unable to give him a fair hearing.
This included Tripoli's inability to transfer Seif, Kadhafi's one-time heir apparent, to the Libyan capital from his prison in the hilltop stronghold of Zintan, where he is currently being held by militia members.
Tripoli appealed the original decision a few days later, in June.
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Seif, 41, and Kadhafi's former spy chief Abdullah Senussi, around 64, have been charged for their roles in violent attempts to put down the 2011 uprising in the desert country that eventually toppled Kadhafi's regime.
Seif appeared on May 11 by video link in a Tripoli court from Zintan, where he has been held since his capture by rebels in November 2011.
His court-appointed lawyer was unable to attend the hearing, so the trial was adjourned to May 25 to allow him to help his client.
"The ICC Appeals decision today reinforces Libya’s long overdue obligation to surrender Seif Kadhafi to The Hague for fair trial," Human Rights Watch's international justice director Richard Dicker said.
"If Libya refuses, the international community should step up and demand his surrender," said Stephanie Barbour, head of Amnesty International's Centre for International Justice in The Hague.
The ICC's decision comes against the backdrop of an increasingly volatile situation in oil-rich Libya, where violence among militias threatens to scupper an election planned for June to replace its disputed parliament.
Militias are blamed for growing unrest in the North African country since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that killed dictator Kadhafi after more than 40 years in power.
A one-time member of Kadhafi's inner circle and Libya's de facto prime minister, Seif himself was nabbed by fighters in November 2011 and taken to Zintan, southwest of the capital.