Gadhafi’s Son Captured in Southern Libya

Posted November 19th, 2011 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Libyan officials have said fighters from the Abu Bakr Sidiq militia in the city of Zintan captured Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Zintan militia commander Beshir al-Atrib told a news conference in Tripoli Saturday that Seif al-Islam was apprehended along with three aides near the town of Obari in the southern Libyan desert as he was trying to flee to Niger.

Niger has already given asylum to this brother, Saadi, but the country's president, Mahamadou Issoufou, said last week no decision had been made about what to do if Seif al-Islam requested asylum.

Al-Atrib expressed hope that Gadhafi's capture will be momentous to all Libyans and that the future of Libya will be brighter and national unity will be everybody's goal.

The news conference was frequently interrupted by cheering spectators who clapped and shouted “God is great.”

Libya's interim Interior Minister Mohammed al-Alaqi told al-Arabiya TV that Seif al-Islam had been taken to Zintan after his capture. Al-Alaqi initially indicated that Gadhafi would be handed over to the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, which has an outstanding warrant for his arrest, but later insisted that he would be “tried in Libya, according to international norms.”

Following word of his arrest, Libyan officials released a picture allegedly of Seif al-Islam, reclining on a bed with bandages on his right hand. It is unclear how he was hurt.

Video from Tripoli on Saturday showed Libyans celebrating news of Seif al-Islam's arrest. The ICC issued arrest warrants against Seif al-Islam, his father, and former Intelligence Chief Abdallah Senoussi who is still at large, last June.

Seif al-Islam is wanted by the court on charges of crimes against humanity for helping to lead the crackdown on protests during his father's rule. He was last seen in August, after reportedly escaping revolutionary fighters who had captured Tripoli. He was later reported to have fled to the desert town of Bani Walid, which fell last month.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said the court had been in talks with Seif al-Islam about a possible surrender and making sure he gets a fair trial. He said he plans to travel to Libya soon to discuss with Libyan authorities where Seif al-Islam will be tried.

International rights groups are closely watching the process surrounding Seif al-Islam's detention, especially following the murky circumstances surrounding the capture and death of his father, Moammar Gadhafi, while in custody last month.