Seif al-Islam was arrested on November 19 and is being held in Zintan
An image grab taken from a video released by the Zintan Media Centre last month shows Seif al-Islam, the captured son of killed Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi. Human Rights Watch has called on the Libyan authorities to grant Seif immediate access to a lawyer, noting he appeared to be held in good conditions. © - - AFP/File
Seif al-Islam was arrested on November 19 and is being held in Zintan
Last updated: December 21, 2011

Libya must let Seif have lawyer, says rights group

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday called on the Libyan authorities to grant Seif al-Islam, son of slain leader Moamer Kadhafi, immediate access to a lawyer, noting he appeared to be held in good conditions.

"Libyan authorities appear to be holding Seif al-Islam Kadhafi in good physical conditions but should allow him immediate access to a lawyer," the New York-based watchdog said in a statement.

The rights group said it had visited Seif al-Islam on December 18 in Zintan, 180 kilometres (112 miles) southwest of Tripoli, after obtaining permission from general prosecutor Abdelaziz al-Hasadi, who is investigating the case.

"Seif al-Islam says he is getting good food and medical care -- he had no complaints about the physical conditions of his detention," said HRW special adviser Fred Abrahams, who saw him in private for 30 minutes.

"His main concern was the lack of access to family and to a lawyer who can help his case," he said, urging the government to grant him legal access, a right mandated by Libya's penal code.

The prosecutor general is investigating alleged corruption-related crimes committed by Seif al-Islam before this year’s conflict began, as well as crimes committed during the 2011 conflict, the rights group said.

Hasadi was quoted as saying that he would allow Seif access to a lawyer as soon as the government prepared a secure detention facility in Tripoli, where there would be no risk of attack by those wishing to free or harm him.

"The world is watching how Libya handles this case, and Libya should prove that it will grant Kadhafi all the rights that were too often denied in the past," Abrahams said.

Seif, who was arrested on November 19 -- almost a month to the day after his father was captured and killed -- is now in the custody of the Zintan military council, which has forbidden family visits citing security concerns.

"Kadhafi said he had no complaints about his physical treatment by his captors, both those who apprehended him outside of Obari in southern Libya on November 19 and those holding him in Zintan," HRW said.

But he complained of his "total isolation" from the outside world, it added.

Seif was also quoted as saying that he had not been tortured and was receiving regular medical attention, including an operation on his right hand which was wounded in a NATO air strike near Bani Walid.

He also reportedly gave details on the fate of other family members.

"Kadhafi also confirmed that a NATO strike in late April had killed his brother Seif al-Arabi, as well as one guard... and two grandchildren of Moamer Kadhafi were also killed... in another strike," the statement read.

The International Criminal Court issued a warrant in June for Seif al-Islam on charges of crimes against humanity, but after his capture the National Transitional Council said it wanted to try him on Libyan soil.

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