'Gaddafi son, Saif al-Islam, offers to surrender to Hague'

Report from Libya's NTC government cannot be confirmed, The Hague says; Gaddafi son, former intel chief believed hiding in Sahara desert.

October 26, 2011 20:27
2 minute read.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi [file]

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah)


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TRIPOLI - Saif al-Islam Gaddafi wants to turn himself in to the Hague war crimes court, a senior Libyan official told Reuters on Wednesday.

On the run in the desert, fearing for his life after his father was captured and slain and despairing of any safe haven across an African border, the 39-year-old who many once assumed would inherit dynastic power from Muammar Gaddafi now saw a Dutch prison cell as his best option, the official said.

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With him was his relative, former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, the third man indicted along with the two Gaddafis by the International Criminal Court (ICC) after their crackdown on the popular revolt that began in February.

"They are proposing a way to hand themselves over to The Hague," said Abdel Majid Mlegta, a senior military official for the National Transitional Council. NTC forces toppled Gaddafi in August and overran his hometown and final bastion of Sirte a week ago, capturing the fallen strongman, who was then killed.

An ICC spokesman said it had no confirmation of any talks.

It had hoped to try Muammar Gaddafi himself for crimes against humanity, although Libya's NTC also wanted to have him face justice at home. In the event, the 69-year-old was seized by NTC fighters who filmed themselves beating him before he died, although it remains unclear who finally killed him.

His rotting corpse was displayed to the public for four days before being buried in a secret desert grave on Tuesday.

Mlegta, citing intelligence sources, said Saif al-Islam, whose British education and talk of liberal reforms once put him at the heart of a rapprochement between his father and the West, was somewhere in the Libyan Sahara far to the south, trying to get an unnamed country to broker a deal with the ICC.

With Senussi, he had contemplated escape into either Algeria, which has taken in his mother, sister and two brothers, or to Niger, where another brother found refuge. However, Mlegta said: "They feel that it is not safe for them to stay where they are or to go anywhere."

Further confirmation of the fugitives' situation was not immediately possible. Mlegta said that, despite the Gaddafi family being assumed to have great wealth hidden away, Saif al-Islam lacked the funds to buy safe passage into Niger.

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