Seif al-Islam, the second son of Moammar el-Gaddafi and once thought to be a liberal reformer, has been found and arrested in the southern Libyan desert, say Mohammed al-Alagy, Libya’s acting justice minister, and other officials. Fighters from the western mountain city of Zintan said they had captured Seif and three armed companions on Saturday. Crowds celebrated and celebratory gunfire rang out in the capital of Tripoli and in Zintan, where an angry mob reportedly tried to storm the plane that Saif was on.
Libyan TV has aired a photo posted on Facebook purportedly of Seif in custody. He was found wearing traditional robes and a thick beard; he has so far refused to identify himself. Asked about the bandages on his right thumb and two other fingers, he said it was from the “air force”; asked if he meant a NATO strike, he responded “yes.”
The fighters who detained Seif said they plan to keep him in Zintan until the Libyan interim government, the National Transition Council (NTC), has formed an administration, as interim prime minister Abdurrahim El-Keib has said they will on Tuesday. Libyans wish to try Seif at home to address killings, repression and the wholesale theft of public funds that occurred during his father Gaddafi’s 40 years of rule. But Seif is also wanted for crimes against humanity, for ordering that protesters be fired on in February, by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague. Acting justice minister Alagy said that the Libyan government would not oppose having international monitors present at any trial proceedings.
The beating, abuse and death of Moammar el-Gaddafi on October 20 after he was captured by rebel fighters has been an embarrassment for the new Libyan government, which is determined to handle Seif’s treatment differently.
Seif had been traveling in 4 x 4 vehicles to elude Libyan forces. He was reportedly captured without any fighting; the Zintan forces said that “At the beginning he was very scared. He thought we would kill him.” Seif has been in hiding since NTC forces took Tripoli in August. Since October, when Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte fell, Seif has been hiding out in the desert in the tribal bastion of Bani Walid. He was found near the oil town of Ubari.
Now only Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief, Abdallah Senoussi, is still at large. ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo is en route to Libya to speak to government officials and emphasized that “The news is Saif will get justice. Where and how, that we will discuss.”
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Photo of Saif al-Islam by شبكة برق | B.R.Q
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