Libya: Trial opens for dozens accused of Islamic State membership

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Libya on Monday began trying men accused of being members of the Islamic State group. More than 50 men dressed in blue jumpsuits sat behind a cage in a Misrata courtroom as armed security personnel kept an eye on them.

They are accused of being members of a terrorist organization and of carrying out killings.

"The objective of these hearings and representing the families of the martyrs and the wounded is to provide evidence against each accused so that the trial is fair and not subject to appeal," Lotfi Muhaishem, a lawyer representing the victims and their families said. 

In 2014, Islamic State took advantage of the disorder that followed the killing of Muammar Gaddafi to establish itself in Libya. In 2015, the organization seized the coastal city of Sirte, but lost it in 2016 after heavy fighting between the jihadists and Misrata forces.

"We, the families of the martyrs and wounded, the people of Misrata and the residents of Libya, demand the death penalty for these members of the IS group" said Fatima al-Tlisi, mother of a victim of the IS group.

Although the group was defeated in Libya, some experts have expressed concern that it could reappear in the country's south where its members have staged deadly ambushes against security forces.

The power struggles in Tripoli have also prevented security forces from focusing on terrorist threats.

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