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Last Updated: Monday, 19 April, 2004, 11:07 GMT 12:07 UK
Gaddafi plans major law reform
Colonel Gaddafi
No longer a pariah, Colonel Gaddafi met Tony Blair last month
Libya's leader has called for sweeping legal changes including the abolition of a special revolutionary court criticised by human rights groups.

Colonel Muammar Gaddafi also urged an end to the arrest of people without a warrant and the ratification of international anti-torture conventions.

Last month he promised to act after an Amnesty International team made their first visit to Libya in 15 years.

The image of Libya's leader has been transformed in western eyes recently.

Last month, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair visited following the ending of United Nations sanctions. US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns also met the Libyan leader in Tripoli.

This followed Libya's announcement that it would end its weapons of mass destruction programme and pay compensation to the families of the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing.


Dr Miloud Mhathbi, a prominent Libyan professor of international law, described the proposed changes to the court system as "a revolution in Libyan law".

Trials held in the People's Exceptional Court were criticised for being unfair and because their verdicts could never be appealed.

If the exceptional court is abolished as planned, ordinary criminal courts would be put in charge of trials and prisoners would also have a right to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Actions such as arbitrary arrests, police searches, and tapping of phone lines would also become illegal.

The BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli says this latest move will no doubt be hailed as another sign that Colonel Gaddafi is sincere about change and reform.

However, she says, those who are sceptical about the announcements wonder whether such changes will ever be implemented, even if they are legally ratified.


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