Saif Gaddafi Gets a New Lawyer (For Now)

by Kevin Jon Heller

The Pre-Trial Chamber has granted the OPCD’s request to withdraw from the case and has appointed the OPCD’s chosen replacement, John RWD Jones QC, to represent Saif until such time as he is either able to choose his own lawyer or the ICC finally rules on Libya’s admissibility challenge. Jones is a fantastic choice — he successfully represented both Oric and Markac at the ICTY, established the Defence Office at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and is one of the world’s leading extradition scholars and practitioners.

That said, the OPCD’s rationale for withdrawing should give us all pause:

The OPCD submits that an imminent depletion in staffing will disrupt the continuity of Mr Gaddafi’s representation and will significantly affect its ability to fulfil its mandate in a timely and effective manner. The OPCD suggests that replacement of counsel for Mr Gaddafi at this juncture would facilitate a smooth transition in representation and would ensure that new counsel has sufficient time to acquaint themselves with the case in advance of potential appellate proceedings.

Reading between the lines, it seems clear that the OPCD is facing a significant funding crisis. That’s a serious problem, given the critical role the OPCD plays in the overall defence scheme at the ICC.

The OPCD deserves our praise for its advocacy of Saif’s interests — efforts that never wavered, even when Melinda Taylor and her colleagues were illegally and unconscionably detained by the Libyan government. Best of luck to Jones, whom I have no doubt will do an equally superb job.

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