Libya’s prime minister has promised a fair trial for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the influential son of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, following his capture in the southern desert town of Obari.
In the first official announcement of Saif al-Islam’s capture late on Saturday, Abdurrahim El-Keib said he thought the capture would “turn the page on the phase of revolution”.
El-Keib also said it would “mark the beginning of the building of a state of freedom, law, justice and transparency”.
“I want to assure our people and all nations of the world that Saif and those with him will be given a fair trial, with the guarantees of local and international law,” he told a news conference in the Western mountain town of Zintan, where Saif al-Islam and several bodyguards had been taken.
Once considered the favourite to succeed his late father, Saif was arrested by fighters from Zintan, who make up one of Libya’s most powerful armed factions. They said they would hold him until they could hand him over to authorities.
Along with his father and Abdullah Senoussi, Libya’s former intelligence chief who remains at large, Saif al-Islam was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in June on crimes against humanity charges relating to the Gaddafi regime’s efforts to put down the uprising.
But Saif al-Islam told his captors on Saturday he didn’t recognise the ICC.
Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught, reporting from Zintan, said: “Libya’s prime minister is confident Libya has the means of providing a fair hearing for Saif al-Islam”.
“Libyans are pretty clear: Saif is their citizen and he committed alleged crimes in Libya, so they want a trial in Libya,” said our reporter.
‘Ready to prosecute’
Luis Moreno Ocampo, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, said on Saturday he would visit Libya in a week to discuss the prosecution.
|ICC case against Saif al-Islam|
“The good news is that Saif al-Islam is arrested, he is alive, and now he will face justice,” Ocampo said in an interview in The Hague, the Dutch city where the ICC is based.
Many Libyans want Saif al-Islam to be tried at home, believing he knows the location of billions of dollars of public money amassed by the Gaddafi family.
Mohammed al-Alagy, Libya’s interim justice minister, said the country would try him initially for crimes that carry the death penalty.
“We are ready to prosecute Saif al-Islam,” al-Alagy said. “We have adopted enough legal and judicial procedures to ensure a fair trial for him.”
David Cameron, the British prime minister, who with France had pushed for foreign military intervention in Libya, joined calls for a fair trial and offered to help Libya in pursuing justice.
“The Libyan government has told us again today that he will receive a trial in line with international standards, and it is important that this happens,” Cameron said in a statement.
The capture of Saif al-Islam leaves Senoussi as the only high-ranking official of the old regime or member of Gaddafi’s family still at large.
Saif-al-Islam had been on the run since Tripoli fell to the National Transistional Council (NTC) in August.
His father was killed on October 20 in circumstances still under investigation after being captured in his hometown of Sirte.