Cablegate: Libya Establishes Special State Security Court to Try Regime
DE RUEHTRO #0989/01 3301051
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 261051Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2861
INFO RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0518
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0567
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 0361
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0924
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0672
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0370
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 0009
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 3288
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000989
DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/MAG
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2017
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL LY
SUBJECT: LIBYA ESTABLISHES SPECIAL STATE SECURITY COURT TO TRY REGIME
REF: (A) TRIPOLI 158, (B) TRIPOLI 159, (C) TRIPOLI 160, (D) TRIPOLI 218, (E) TRIPOLI 657, (F) TRIPOLI 705 CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, AmEmbassy Tripoli, State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (SBU) Summary: The GOL quietly established a state security court of appeals on/about August 13, apparently for the short-term purpose of hearing the case of twelve self-described regime dissidents detained since February 16 for planning a peaceful demonstration in Tripoli calling for multiparty elections. The new court held an additional hearing on the dissidents' case November 6. The dissidents, led by physician Idriss Boufayed, began a hunger strike on October 30 to protest their lengthy pre-trial detention. Opposition groups allege the twelve have faced "severe torture" in Libyan custody, including lengthy detention in small underground cells. End summary.
LIBYA ESTABLISHES STATE SECURITY COURT
2. (SBU) According to Libyan Human Rights Solidarity (LHRS), a Libyan opposition group operating in Europe that relies on the Internet to disseminate information inside Libya, the GOL-affiliated Higher Judicial Council announced the creation of a state security court of appeals on August 13. On October 17, LHRS posted on its site an apparently authentic order bearing the seal and letterhead of the Higher Judicial Council formally creating the state security court. According to the order, the court's bailiwick comprises hearing cases derived from three laws: a 1975 amendment to Law 80 of the penal code that introduced the death penalty for offences against the state; the 1972 law 71 which stipulates the death penalty for "any form of group activity based on a political ideology opposed to the principles of the September 1, 1969 revolution"; and a revolutionary committee decision from 1969 prohibiting peaceful instances of political opposition. According to LHRS, cases under the new court will be conducted in secret and lawyers will be denied access to clients before their trial. In a statement, LHRS likened the new court to the notorious People's Courts, an extra-judicial entity established to punish political crimes that was formally dismantled in 2005.
SECURITY COURT HEARS CASE OF TWELVE REGIME DISSIDENTS
3. (S) The state security court first heard the case against Idriss Boufayed, al-Mahdi Hameed, and ten other self-described regime dissidents November 6. As described ref A-D, the twelve dissidents were initially arrested on February 16 following a meeting with an officer at U.S. Embassy Tripoli and in advance of a planned peaceful demonstration in Tripoli calling for multiparty elections. They face charges of advocating the overthrow of the government, illegal weapons possession, and illegal contact with a representative of a foreign government, each of which potentially carries the death penalty. The GOL formally protested, claiming that Emboff's meeting with the dissidents constituted "inappropriate" behavior (ref E - NOTAL, and previous).
4. (SBU) According to witnesses at the November 6 hearing, two defendants -- Juma'a Boufayed (believed to be the brother of group leader Idriss Boufayed) and Abdulrahman al-Qataywi -- did not appear in court. An earlier hearing scheduled for August 4 was postponed indefinitely by a Tripoli criminal court without explanation (ref F). According to Libyan opposition groups resident outside the country, the court allowed the defendents to attend an opening session of the hearing and allowed Idriss Boufayed to make a statement attesting to the defendents' "mistreatment" in Libyan detention. Following Boufayed's statement, the defendants and public were removed from the courtroom while the session continued. A follow-up hearing was scheduled for November 20.
DISSIDENTS GO ON HUNGER STRIKE
5. (SBU) Opposition groups also report that on/about October 30, Boufayed and his co-defendents, divided between the Ayn Zara and Jadida prisons in Tripoli, began a hunger strike. As of November 17, the hunger strike was reportedly still ongoing. The purpose of the hunger strike is to protest against repeated delays in convening a meaningful hearing in the case against the fourteen defendants. One defendant, the popular opposition writer Jamal al-Hajj, told a website based in London that he was refusing to eat "because I am innocent~ nothing in Libyan law condemns me." TRIPOLI 00000989 002 OF 002
OPPOSITION GROUPS CONTINUE TO ALLEGE TORTURE
6. (SBU) Opposition groups have continuously reported that the self-styled anti-Qadhafi dissidents have been tortured while in Libyan detention. On November 17, the popular UK-based opposition journal "Libya al-Mustaqbil" reported that the dissidents faced "severe torture" during the first five months (February to July 2007) of their detention, including being locked in pairs in extremely small (less than 4 cubic meters) underground cells.
7.(S) Comment: Apparently mindful of potential international condemnation of its imprisonment of peaceful dissidents, the GOL has sought to manage the trial quietly. An effort by the Swiss Ambassador in August to rally members of the diplomatic corps to press the GOL to allow foreign observers of the trial proceedings failed to gain traction, in part because the GOL strongly cautioned the diplomatic corps against pursuing such access. (Note: Idriss Boufayed is a Swiss permanent resident; one of the other detainees is a Danish-Libyan dual citizen. End note.) The GOL has generally refused to discuss the case with diplomats, claiming that it is a strictly internal matter. The regular Internet postings of LHRS and Libya al-Mustaqbil currently constitute the best source of information about developments in the case. The fact that LHRS was able to secure a copy of the presumably secret order establishing the state security court suggests that the dissident groups enjoy access to and the sympathies of at least some GOL officials. End comment. MILAM 0 11/26/2007 6209 PHUM,PGOV,PREL,LY LIBYA ESTABLISHES SPECIAL STATE SECURITY COURT TO TRY REGIME DISSIDENTS The GOL quietly established a state security court of appeals on/about August 13, apparently for the short-term purpose of hearing the case of twelve self-described regime dissidents detained since February 16 for planning a peaceful demonstration in Tripoli calling for multiparty elections. The new court held an additional hearing on the dissidents' case November 6. The dissidents, led by physician Idriss Boufayed, began a hunger strike on October 30 to protest their lengthy pre-trial detention. Opposition groups allege the twelve have faced "severe torture" in Libyan custody, including lengthy detention in small underground cells.