Saif al-Gaddafi, the London School of Economics graduate son of slain Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, begins in Tripoli on Monday, the Independent reports.
He is facing accusations of orchestrating a campaign of murder, torture and bombardment of civilians during Libya’s eight-month civil war in 2011.
His co-accused include his younger brother, Saadi Gaddafi, who was extradited from Niger, former spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi, two former prime ministers and 34 senior officials.
The trial is going ahead amid turmoil and violence in the country. On Sunday Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni resigned just weeks after he was appointed to the post.
He said that he had made his decision “to protect the interests of the country and so as not to drag different sides into fighting when there can be no winner”.
The move was also related to an armed attack on him and his family in a residential neighbourhood on Saturday night that put the lives of its residents at risk. He said that he did not want to be the cause of any fighting or bloodshed because of his position, but would stay on as head of the Cabinet until a replacement could be found.
Few details of the case have been revealed, but documents filed by Libya with the international criminal court (ICC) show a charge sheet detailing more than 200 witnesses and 40,000 pages of evidence.
The trial has been moved to the capital’s maximum security al-Hadba prison amid security fears. Saif al-Islam will appear over video link from where he is being held by a militia in the western Libyan town of Zintan, which refuses to hand him over to the central government.
The defendants are accused of arranging a series of massacres in the early days of Libya’s revolution, and of later rounding up, torturing and killing hundreds of opponents. The two brothers are also accused of plundering state funds to pay for their lavish lifestyles abroad.