Moammar Gadhafi's son has been sentenced to death in absentia today by a Tripoli court that found him guilty of war crimes during Libya's 2011 uprising. Saif al-Islam is being held by a militia, from the town of Zintan, that has refused to turn him over to the government, reports the BBC; he did appear via video link during the trial, however. The mass trial involved 38 Gadhafi-era figures. Another eight were handed death sentences, among them Gadhafi's former prime minister and former spy chief, though the AP reports it's not clear whether they'll actually be put to death. Saif al-Islam, who is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity, will have the opportunity to appeal.
During the trial, Saif al-Islam was accused of recruiting mercenaries who were given Libyan nationality, planning and carrying out attacks on civilian targets from the air, forming armed groups, and shooting into crowds of demonstrators. Among the charges he was convicted of were incitement of murder and rape. Libya has slid into chaos since the overthrow and killing of Gadhafi. It is now bitterly divided between an elected parliament and government cornered in the country's east, with little power on the ground, and an Islamist militia-backed government called the Libya Dawn in the west that has seized Tripoli. The Zintan militia that is holding Saif al-Islam is allied with the internationally recognized government, not the Tripoli one that controlled the trial, reports the Guardian.