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.

Photo: Getty Images
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What do Labour's lost voters make of the Labour leadership candidates?

What does Newsnight's focus group make of the Labour leadership candidates?

Tonight on Newsnight, an IpsosMori focus group of former Labour voters talks about the four Labour leadership candidates. What did they make of the four candidates?

On Andy Burnham:

“He’s the old guard, with Yvette Cooper”

“It’s the same message they were trying to portray right up to the election”​

“I thought that he acknowledged the fact that they didn’t say sorry during the time of the election, and how can you expect people to vote for you when you’re not actually acknowledging that you were part of the problem”​

“Strongish leader, and at least he’s acknowledging and saying let’s move on from here as opposed to wishy washy”

“I was surprised how long he’d been in politics if he was talking about Tony Blair years – he doesn’t look old enough”

On Jeremy Corbyn:

"“He’s the older guy with the grey hair who’s got all the policies straight out of the sixties and is a bit of a hippy as well is what he comes across as” 

“I agree with most of what he said, I must admit, but I don’t think as a country we can afford his principles”

“He was just going to be the opposite of Conservatives, but there might be policies on the Conservative side that, y’know, might be good policies”

“I’ve heard in the paper he’s the favourite to win the Labour leadership. Well, if that was him, then I won’t be voting for Labour, put it that way”

“I think he’s a very good politician but he’s unelectable as a Prime Minister”

On Yvette Cooper

“She sounds quite positive doesn’t she – for families and their everyday issues”

“Bedroom tax, working tax credits, mainly mum things as well”

“We had Margaret Thatcher obviously years ago, and then I’ve always thought about it being a man, I wanted a man, thinking they were stronger…  she was very strong and decisive as well”

“She was very clear – more so than the other guy [Burnham]”

“I think she’s trying to play down her economics background to sort of distance herself from her husband… I think she’s dumbing herself down”

On Liz Kendall

“None of it came from the heart”

“She just sounds like someone’s told her to say something, it’s not coming from the heart, she needs passion”

“Rather than saying what she’s going to do, she’s attacking”

“She reminded me of a headteacher when she was standing there, and she was quite boring. She just didn’t seem to have any sort of personality, and you can’t imagine her being a leader of a party”

“With Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham there’s a lot of rhetoric but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of direction behind what they’re saying. There seems to be a lot of words but no action.”

And, finally, a piece of advice for all four candidates, should they win the leadership election:

“Get down on your hands and knees and start praying”

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.