[JURIST] The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile], confirmed Friday that there has been informal contact with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of former Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive], discussing the possibility of his surrender to the court. Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) [official website] reported earlier this week that Saif al-Islam and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi were attempting to leave Libya [JURIST report] in an effort to surrender themselves to the ICC, although the ICC was unable to confirm the report at that time. In June, the ICC issued arrest warrants [JURIST report] for Saif al-Islam and al-Senussi alleging they had committed crimes against humanity in connection with the Libya conflict [JURIST backgrounder]. Ocampo indicated that Saif al-Islam has been informed through intermediate channels that if he surrenders he will have the right to a trial [Reuters report], and he will be considered innocent until proven guilty. Ocampo also stated that the ICC was considering the possibility of intercepting a plane [BBC report] with Saif al-Islam on it, if the plane is in the airspace of a country that is a party to the ICC. According to Ocampo, mercenaries are offering to move Saif al-Islam to a country that is not a party to the Rome Statute [text, PDF]. Saif al-Islam’s location is currently unknown, but he is believed to be in Niger. Reports have indicated that Saif al-Islam could seek refuge in Zimbabwe, which is not a signatory of the Rome Statute, if he chooses to avoid ICC prosecution.
On Sunday, Libyan transitional Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril [official profile] declared the country’s official liberation [JURIST report] from the regime of Gaddafi and set a schedule for establishing a new government. Jibril made the announcement in front of thousands of supporters celebrating in the city of Benghazi, the location of the NTC and where the first uprisings sparked the Libya conflict eight months ago. The declaration of liberation came three days after Gaddafi’s capture and death [JURIST report] at the hands of opposition forces in his hometown of Sirte. The NTC has formed a committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding Gaddafi’s death, after pressure [JURIST reports] from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website], rights groups including Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] and international governments. An autopsy has confirmed that Gaddafi died from a gun shot wound to the head [AP report], but interim Libya leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil [official profile] has suggested that Gaddafi may have been killed by his own supporters [AP report] to prevent him from implicating them in any crimes under his regime. Gaddafi’s death marks the latest milestone in the Libya conflict, which began in February [JURIST report] as part of a wider protest movement, commonly referred to as the “Arab Spring,” that had spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa.