Photo by -/AFP/Getty Images
Update: It’s difficult to be so unpopular.
Libya’s new government authorities say that Seif al-Islam, the son of Col. Muammar Qaddafi who was just captured in Southern Libya, will not go to trial in the International Criminal Court despite charges of crimes against humanity. There’s just one problem — the National Transitional Council can’t get the militia who caught him to hand Qaddafi’s son over to them.
In what the Associated Press reports is an emerging web of bureaucratic complications inside a country still trying to establish governmental legitimacy, Seif al-Islam Qaddafi’s fate remains very uncertain. Some are already concerned that Qaddafi’s one-time heir apparent may not receive a fair trial — an outcome that befell his father and raised concerns among the international community about Libya’s future rulers.
A refusal to turn over the prisoner brings Libya’s lack of centralized control into sharp relief; many of the country’s armed militias are refusing to lay down weapons and may be jockeying for more power — an environment that many analysts fear could lead to more violence.
On Sunday, a militia touring the same area of Libya reportedly also captured former intelligence minister Abdullah al-Senoussi, who like Seif may have been trying to flee to neighboring Niger.
The BBC reports that Senoussi, 62, was one of Col. Qaddafi’s most trusted advisors and also his brother-in-law. He has also been accused of human rights abuses, including the massacre of more than 1000 inmates at the Abu Salim prison near Tripoli.
Original post Saturday, 11:49 a.m.:Militias in Libya’s southwestern desert have reportedly captured Muammar Qaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam — a man who was often at the center of the struggle between government and anti-government forces in Tripoli, and the heir apparent to his strongman father.
According to The New York Times, Seif’s captors say they won’t yet turn him over to Transitional National Council or other officials but keep him as a war prisoner — a move that caused worry among some in the wake of Col. Qaddafi’s own questionable death.
We would like to see him kept alive,” Transitional National Council spokesman Essam El Gheriani told the Times. “We don’t want accidents this time. This is extremely important for the national council and the Libyan people."
The transitional government has pledged to turn the second of the former leader’s nine children over to the International Criminal Court, but it was unclear Saturday whether the militia who captured him supported such a move.
“The good news is that Seif al-Islam is arrested, he is alive, and now he will face justice,” International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told the Associated Press. “Where and how, we will discuss it.”
Ocampo plans to travel to Libya next week to further press officials to try Qaddafi’s son at the ICC, which some believe is the best venue for a fair trial for charges of crimes against humanity leveled against him.
Solid proof of Seif’s capture is difficult to find, however, and he has evaded reported capture before. The stylish English speaker — whose name means “sword of Islam” — was reported captured in Tripoli during some of the heaviest fighting in Libya’s capital before Qaddafi’s fall, but then appeared outside the Tripoli hotel where journalists were stationed, rallying supporters.
The BBC reports that the trained engineer and graduate of the London School of Economics often played the roll of trying to smooth his country’s relations with the West, helping to convince his father to abandon a nuclear weapons program and negotiated compensation for families of those killed in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. Many had seen Seif as a possible reformer, though he denied interest in inheriting rule from his father.