Seif al-Islam, the fugitive son of Libya’s now-deceased and deposed leader, Muammar el-Gaddafi, has been in indirect contact with the International Criminal Court and says that he is innocent of crimes against humanity. Four months ago, the Hague-based ICC had issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi himself, Seif al-Islam and Abdullah al-Sanousi, Colonel Qaddafi’s intelligence minister and brother-in-law, on charges of systematically killing civilians in the early days of the Libya uprising.
Since he appeared at a hotel in Tripoli after the NTC said it had captured him, Saif al-Islam’s whereabouts have been unknown; it was thought that he was in the town of Bani Walid. After his father was captured and killed outside his birthplace of Surt, Seif al-Islam has been reported to have fled to Libya’s southern border into Niger. But officials in Niger say they have do know about where he is and that they will act on the ICC’s warrants if he is found in their country. Other accounts have said that Seif al-Islam and Sanoussi may both be in Mali and under the protection of Tuareg tribesmen, who have “good relations with the Gaddafi family.” Agency-France Presse has also suggested that Seif al-Islam is under the protection of mercenaries from South Africa.
Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) has raised concerns about the informal talks that the ICC says it has held with Seif al-Islam. The NTC would “prefer to capture” him and put him on trial in Tripoli. ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said:
We are making no deal, though we have a case against him. But we are explaining the legal system and his right to defend himself.
Moreno-Ocampo did not clarify whether Seif al-Islam had initiated informal contact, or who had conveyed the messages for him. He also noted that the ICC is worried that he could flee to another country (possibly Zimbabwe) beyond the reach of the court, under the protection of mercenaries.
As calls have arisen to prosecute Gaddafi’s killers and as evidence about retaliatory violence and killings by anti-Gaddafi forces has surfaced, human rights groups have said it is even more imperative to capture and arrest Seif al-Islam.
Two of Gaddafi’s sons, Muatassim and Khamis, who were both military officers, died during the uprising. Saadi, also a military officer, has fled to Niger and Seif al-Arab is thought to have been killed in an air raid in Tripoli. Gaddafi’s other surviving children Mohammed, Hannibal and his daughter, Aisha, have all fled to neighboring Algeria.
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Photo of Seif al-Islam by شبكة برق | B.R.Q
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