The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog

RSS

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.