UN, US express concern after incident at Libyan court

·2-min read

TRIPOLI (Reuters) -The U.N. mission to Libya expressed alarm on Friday about an incident at a court where Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's lawyer said armed men stopped him from lodging an appeal against his client's disqualification from next month's presidential election.

The U.N. Support Mission in Libya said it was alarmed by the reported attack at the appeal court in Sebha on Thursday, strongly condemned any form of electoral-related violence, and reiterated that the electoral process must be protected.

The U.S. Embassy in Libya said it shared the U.N. mission's concerns over violence related to the Dec. 24 election, which is part of a peace process meant to end a decade of turmoil but has stirred fears of renewed conflict.

The elections commission disqualified Saif al-Islam, son of the late Libyan dictator, and 24 others on Wednesday. Rival camps are disputing the election rules and the eligibility of candidates, threatening to derail the vote.

Gaddafi's lawyer, Khaled al-Zaidi, said in a video that 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.

The Justice Ministry in Tripoli said an armed group had forced everyone to leave the court building.

No faction claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement on its Twitter feed, the U.S. Embassy said, "Attacks against judicial or election facilities or judicial or elections personnel are not only criminal acts, punishable under Libyan law, but also undermine Libyans’ right to participate in the political process".

Sebha is under the control of a group allied to the eastern-based Libyan National Army force commanded by Khalifa Haftar, another of the main candidates.

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

He has spent the last decade in the mountain town of Zintan, where his captors took him after he was seized trying to flee Libya during the uprising.

(Reporting by Libya Reuters newsroomWriting by Tom PerryEditing by Barbara Lewis and Frances Kerry)

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