Saif al-Islam Gaddafi 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah)
THE HAGUE - International war crimes prosecutors are in touch with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, urging him to give himself up and warning him on Friday he risks a mid-air interception if he tries to flee by plane to an African safe haven.
Confirming reports from Libya's new leadership to Reuters that the fugitive son and heir-apparent of slain strongman Muammar Gaddafi has been negotiating a possible surrender, the International Criminal Court said in a statement: "Through intermediaries, we have informal contact with Saif."
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"There are some people connected with him that are in touch with people connected with us, so we have no direct relation, it's through intermediaries," Moreno-Ocampo said in a brief interview after arriving in Beijing, where he is attending a law conference.
"But we trust very much the person who is in touch for our side. He says he is innocent, he will prove he is innocent, and then he is interested in the consequence after that."
It gave no details on the younger Gaddafi's whereabouts but said it was "galvanising efforts" to arrest him and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, both of whom Libyan officials have said are being sheltered by Tuareg nomads in the Sahara, in the borderlands of Libya and Niger.
"Additionally," ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said, "We have learnt through informal channels that there is a group of mercenaries who are offering to move Saif to an African [country] not party to the Rome Statute of the ICC.
"The Office of the Prosecutor is also exploring the possibility to intercept any plane within the air space of a state party in order to make an arrest."
Some observers suggest surrendering to the ICC may be only one option
for Saif al-Islam, 39, who may alternatively hope for a welcome in one
of the African states his father helped. NTC officials have said Saif
al-Islam might consider surrender his safest option given his father's
Officials with Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) have said
they believe African mercenaries, including from South Africa, were
acting as bodyguards for Saif al-Islam as he took refuge in Bani Walid, a
pro-Gaddafi bastion near Tripoli, and then fled south as his father was
captured, abused and killed.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the fugitive son of Libya's toppled leader, told the International Criminal Court he is innocent of alleged crimes against humanity, the court prosecutor said on Saturday in the Chinese capital.