THE HAGUE - Libya can guarantee the son of its former dictator a fair trial, Libyan government lawyers said on Tuesday at a hearing on whether Saif al-Islam Gaddafi should face justice at home or at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Accusations by ICC defense lawyers acting for Muammar Gaddafi's son that he was physically mistreated by Libyan authorities are false, Philippe Sands, counsel for the Libyan government, told the first day of the two-day hearing at the ICC in the Hague.

ICC judges will rule on whether Libya is capable of properly trying the man once seen as Gaddafi's heir-apparent or whether it should extradite him to the Hague. They have no way of enforcing their decision.

British-educated Saif al-Islam was caught in the Libyan desert last November and the international court's prosecutor has charged him with crimes against humanity committed during the uprising that toppled his father.

An ICC-appointed defense lawyer who was detained in Libya along with three colleagues for almost a month told reporters in July that her experience showed the dictator's son could not get a fair trial in his home country.

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