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ICC in talks with Gaddafi's fugitive son
International Criminal Court are in "informal contact" with Saif al-Islam, who is wanted for war crimes in Libya.
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 23:31
Saif al-Islam is reportedly in Niger, while senior Gaddafi aide Abdullah al-Senussi, right, is said to be in Mali [Reuters]

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has confirmed that informal contact has been made with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the fugitive son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in order to arrest him and bring him to trial.

The ICC charged Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam and Abdullah al-Senussi, Libya's former intelligence chief, with crimes against humanity for the bombing and shooting of civilian protesters in February.

"Through intermediaries, we have informal contact with Saif" [and we are] "galvanising efforts" [to arrest him and Senussi]

- ICC

"If we reach agreement, logistical measures for his [Saif's] transfer will be taken," said Fadi El Abdallah, ICC spokesman, on Friday.

"It is not possible to discuss logistics or make presumptions about what is needed at this stage. There are different scenarios depending on what country he is in."

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Tripoli, said officials in Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) were "not happy" about the contact between Gaddafi's most prominent son and the ICC.

"They [the NTC] say he has to face trial here in Tripoli, not at the ICC. They insist Saif al-Islam be tried [by Libyans] without the intermediation of a third party," Ahelbarra said.

'Mercenaries'

In an earlier statement, the ICC said "through intermediaries, we have informal contact with Saif", and we are "galvanising efforts" to arrest him and Senussi. 

The court gave no indication of the men's location, but Libyan officials have said both are being sheltered by Tuareg nomads in the Sahara, in the borderlands of Libya and Niger.

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Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC's prosecutor, 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."

Moreno-Ocampo added: "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."

An NTC source said on Thursday that Saif wanted an aircraft, possibly arranged by a neighbouring country, to take him out of Libya's southern desert and into ICC custody.

The NTC official said Saif, 39, had crossed into Niger but had not yet found a way to hand himself in to the ICC.

"There is a contact with Mali and with South Africa and with another neighbouring country to organise his exit. He hasn't got confirmation yet, he's still waiting," said the official, who declined to be named.

Buying time?

The ICC, which is based in The Hague in the Netherlands, has no police force of its own, and therefore has to rely on state co-operation to have suspects arrested.

If Saif is in Niger, an ICC member state, the Niger government has an obligation to arrest him.

Tunisia and Mali are also member states, whereas Algeria is not.

Earlier this week, an NTC official said Saif had acquired a passport in a false name and was lying low south of Ghat, a border crossing with Algeria, through which his mother, sister and two of his surviving brothers fled in August. 

The NTC has reportedly been pressing Algiers to hand over other Gaddafi relatives. 

"The question is to what extent these countries are ready to manage the pressure that will be put on them by an ICC transfer as it will have implications for them with other African countries," Damien Helly, of the European Union Institute for Security Studies, told the Reuters news agency. 

Helly questioned whether Saif was "desperately trying to save his life" or whether his offer to surrender was a way of buying time or bargaining to improve his situation.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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