21/11/2011 00:35 GMT | Updated 20/01/2012 05:12 GMT

Saif Gaddafi Must Have Fair Trial, Says UK Government

Britain has reiterated calls for Saif al Islam Gaddafi to be given a fair trial as prosecutors from The Hague prepared to fly into Libya for talks over how the case is handled.

Muammar Gaddafi's son will face a Libyan hearing rather than be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the state's information minister Mahmoud Shammam has insisted. That decision will be discussed with ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo when he arrives in Tripoli on Monday.

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said he had "confidence" the trial would be held to international standards. He told Sky News: "It's very important that Saif al-Islam does have a fair trial, that he answers the charges that have been levelled against him by the Libyan people and we will support that process.

"I think the new Libyan government does understand what is at stake here. They want to show that their government is different from the regime and this trial, this opportunity to demonstrate that, is very important for them.

"I honestly think at this stage that it is much too early and rather presumptuous for all of us to be telling them what to do. Safeguards are important but people are already on their way to work those out with the Libyan authorities."

He added: "I think there is an issue of sovereignty involved. I think there is an issue of pride of what has been achieved in the revolution in Libya.

"These are people who understand what is at stake and are going to work with the International Criminal Court and we will provide all assistance to both to find the best answer as to now what to do with the trial and the facing of justice of Saif al Islam."

Meanwhile, shadow chancellor Ed Balls insisted Labour had "nothing to fear" about what might come out about the party's links with the Gaddafi regime. Speaking to Sky News, the senior Labour MP said there "was no doubt" Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and the Foreign Office's intelligence experts thought at the time that talks with the Libyan regime about disarmament were a "positive step forward".

Saif al Islam was caught on Saturday in southern Libya after months on the run and his arrest sparked a wave of celebrations across the country. He was flown back to Zintan and is said to have confirmed that he was feeling okay to international reporters on the plane, saying that injuries on his right hand were caused by a Nato air strike a month ago.