Gaddafi son, son of late dictator, barred from appeal

Gaddafi son, son of late dictator, barred from appeal

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, attends a hearing behind bars in a courtroom in Zintan, Libya on May 25, 2014. REUTERS Stringer File Photo

TRIPOLI, Nov 25 Reuters - A lawyer for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libya's late dictator, said armed men prevented him from lodging an appeal on Thursday against his client's disqualification from next month's presidential election, adding to the worries surrounding the vote.

A UN peace process to end a decade of chaos since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled has been threatening to derail the election, set for December 24, and with it a U.N. backed peace process.

Interference from fighters from any faction will undermine confidence in a vote that many Libyans want, but it also has caused fears of a new conflict.

The elections commission disqualified Saif al-Islam and 24 others out of a field of 98 presidential hopefuls, subject to appeals.

The commission and U.N. Libya envoy Jan Kubis both said on Wednesday that the judiciary of Libya will have the final say on the list of candidates.

In a video released by Gaddafi's lawyer, Khaled al-Zaidi, said armed men had raided the court in the southern city of Sebha, one of only three registration centres, and stopped him entering to lodge his client's appeal against disqualification.

The Justice Ministry in Tripoli said in a statement on its social media pages that an armed group forced everyone to leave the court building.

Sebha is under the control of a group that is allied to the eastern Libyan National Army force led by Khalifa Haftar, another candidate in the election.

Gaddafi's candidacy was rejected by a court in Tripoli on the basis of his criminal conviction in absentia in 2015 for war crimes committed during the fighting that ousted his father in 2011.

He has spent the past decade in the mountain town of Zintan, where his captors took him after he was seized trying to flee Libya during the uprising and would almost certainly be arrested if he went to Tripoli.

On Thursday, the Supreme Judicial Council reversed a ruling that it made only days ago and said that appeals over eligibility for the election could only be made in the district where the candidate had registered.

Analysts said the judiciary's ruling would make it very hard to lodge demands to disqualify candidates who were initially passed as eligible if, like Haftar, they have armed forces that control the area.