Fri, Oct 28, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Qaddafi son offers to surrender to The Hague: NTC official

ON THE RUN:Saif al-Islam Qaddafi had thought of escaping either to Algeria or Niger, but lacked funds to buy a safe passage out, the Libyan official said

Reuters, TRIPOLI

Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, wants to turn himself in to The Hague war crimes court, a senior Libyan official said 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 once expected to inherit dynastic power from Muammar Qaddafi now saw a Dutch prison cell as his best option, the official said.

With him was his relative, former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, the third man indicted along with the two Qaddafis 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).

NTC forces toppled Qaddafi 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 Qaddafi 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 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 that 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 although the Qaddafi family was assumed to have great wealth hidden away, Saif al-Islam lacked the funds to buy safe passage into Niger.

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