Saif al-Islam Gaddafi captured in Libyan desert

The son and heir-apparent of the former dictator has been arrested by pro-government fighters.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the late Libyan dictator, has been captured in southern Libya, according to officials from the new government.

The second son of Muammar Gaddafi, 39 year old Saif was widely seen as his heir-apparent. He was arrested by pro-government fighters in the desert near the town of Obari. Reportedly, two aides - who have also been arrested - were trying to smuggle him out to neighbouring Niger.

Since Tripoli fell to revolutionary forces, Saif has been in hiding. Last month, he told the International Criminal Court that he was innocent of crimes against humanity. The court is seeking his arrest on charges related to the bombing and shooting of civilians during the civil war.

After his father and his brother Mutassim Gaddafi were killed by rebels soon after their capture, the ICC said that it had made contact with Saif and discussed the possibility of him surrendering through intermediaries. It is not immediately clear whether he gave himself up.

According to initial reports, Libyan officials are keen to try him at home and resist handing him over to The Hague. Militia commander Bashir al-Tayeleb said that it would be up to Libya's National Transitional Council to decide where Saif would be tried.

Saif studied for a doctorate at LSE and in the past has drawn western support, appearing to be a liberal reformer. However, when unrest broke out in Libya, he supported his father's brutal crackdown.

The new Libyan government has been keen to catch him, considering him the last dangerous member of the Gaddafi clan still at large, and capable of stirring up serious unrest or insurgency. He is said to be in good health.

 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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