|Asylum for Saadi is likely to further strain already troubled ties between Niger and Libya’s new rulers [Reuters]|
Niger will grant asylum to Saadi Gaddafi, a son of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the president has confirmed.
“We have agreed on granting asylum to Saadi Gaddafi for humanitarian reasons,” Mahamadou Issoufou, Niger’s president, said on Saturday.
Saadi, a businessman and former professional football player, entered neighbouring Niger after escaping across the border from Libya when National Transitional Council (NTC) forces captured the capital Tripoli in August.
Asylum for Saadi is likely to further strain already troubled relations between Niger and Libya’s interim rulers, who overthrew Gaddafi after an eight month uprising.
Gaddafi, who had been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity along with another son Saif al-Islam, was killed shortly after the capture of his hometown of Sirte by NTC forces.
Interpol has issued a “red notice” requesting member states to arrest Saadi with a view to extradition if they find him on their territory.
Libya’s interim justice minister questioned Niger’s reasons for wanting to grant Saadi asylum on humanitarian grounds, saying it was usually given to people facing persecution in their own country.
“But al-Saadi has practised persecution and incitement to murder.
He is accused of killing Tripoli football player and national team member Bashir Al Rayan … There is strong circumstantial evidence that he was involved in that,” Mohammed al-Alagi told a Dubai-based television station.
Niger is a member of the Hague-based global court and officially would have to hand over Saif al-Islam if he arrived on its territory.
The ICC says it has been in indirect contact with Saif al-Islam to discuss him giving himself up.
He is believed to be hiding deep in the Libyan desert.