"Libya's embattled transitional government is not only struggling to appoint a cabinet, disarm its powerful militias, and deal with the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. It is also locked in a tense battle with the International Criminal Court (ICC) over where to try Muammar al-Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam and the former regime's mysterious intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. Since the fall of Qaddafi's regime and the assertion of a newly sovereign Libya, the ICC's intervention has degenerated into a controversial and, at times, acrimonious battle between Libya's new rulers and the Court over where the highly prized indictees should be tried. Over the past year, Libya's transitional government has sought to demonstrate its effective sovereignty to its citizens and the world by proving itself able and willing to prosecute senior members of the Qaddafi regime. At the same time, the ICC has striven to establish itself as an effective institution that can have positive effects on post-conflict accountability. However, the fight over where to try Saif and Senussi may ultimately serve to undermine the aims of both the ICC and Libya -- not to mention the pursuit of post-Qaddafi justice.
The ICC intervened in Libya when the United Nations Security Council referred the deteriorating situation in the country to the ICC on February 26, 2011. With unprecedented speed, the Court opened an investigation in early March and, in June 2011, issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, Saif al-Islam, and Abdullah al-Senussi. Following the death of Qaddafi in October 2011, only Saif, his father's former heir apparent, and Senussi, the former intelligence chief many believe was responsible for the murder of 1,200 Libyans in the 1996 Abu Salim Prison Massacre, remained alive. As the regime crumbled in the summer of 2011, both went on the run. In November 2011, Saif was captured by Zintani militiamen in the southern desert expanses, disguised in traditional Tuareg robes. He was subsequently taken to Zintan where he remains to this day. Despite recurrent rumors that Senusssi had also been arrested, it was only after a joint operation between Mauritania and France in March that he was finally detained. After months of speculation -- and to the surprise of many -- Senussi was extradited to Libya in early September. (...)