Rights group: Saif Gadhafi should get lawyer

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi was captured in November 2011, months after the fall of his father's regime.

Story highlights

  • Libya must grant Gadhafi the rights denied under the previous regime, Human Rights Watch says
  • Moammar Gadhafi's son is being held in good conditions, the group says
  • He was captured in November
  • The European Union releases frozen Libyan assets
The son of Libya's former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, should have immediate access to a lawyer, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
Libyan government officials appear to be treating him well, and he "had no complaints about the physical conditions of his detention," the group said after being allowed to visit him for 30 minutes earlier this week.
Saif al-Islam Gadhafi was captured last month after the fall of his father's regime in August. He is being held in the Libyan city of Zintan.
Also on Wednesday, the European Union announced it was unfreezing all Libyan Central Bank assets held in its member states, after blocking them to put pressure on Moammar Gadhafi.
The Human Rights Watch official who visited the man once considered Moammar Gadhafi's heir apparent said Gadhafi's main concern "was the lack of access to family and to a lawyer who can help his case."
"Saif al-Islam Gadhafi says he is getting good food and medical care," said Fred Abrahams in a statement.
Libya's general prosecutor, Abdelaziz al-Hasadi, said Gadhafi would have access to a lawyer as soon as the authorities prepared a secure detention center for him in Tripoli, according to Human Rights Watch.
The authorities want to protect Gadhafi from attack as well as to make sure supporters cannot free him, Human Rights Watch said the prosecutor them.
Human Rights Watch said Libya's criminal code required detainees to be given legal counsel.
"The world is watching how Libya handles this case, and Libya should prove that it will grant Gadhafi all the rights that were too often denied in the past," Abrahams said.
At least two of Moammar Gadhafi's children fled Libya as his regime crumbled, and two others have been reported killed.
Aisha Gadhafi fled to Algeria along with several other family members in August. She is a lawyer who assisted in the defense of ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who was hanged in 2006, and a onetime U.N. goodwill ambassador.
Saadi Gadhafi has been granted asylum in Niger.
His brother Khamis Gadhafi, who led an army brigade blamed for the massacre of prisoners in a warehouse outside Tripoli, was killed in a late-August battle in northwestern Libya, rebel commanders said.
Gadhafi's youngest son, Saif al-Arab, was reported killed in a NATO airstrike in April.