[JURIST] Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was captured in southern Libya [JURIST backgrounder] Friday, officials of the country’s interim government have announced. A fugitive since his father’s regime fell last month [JURIST report], the highest-profile son of deceased former dictator Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] was arrested without a fight [Guardian report] in the desert near the southern city of Sabha. Saif al-Islam was captured overnight with several armed companions, reportedly in an attempt to escape to neighboring Niger. Libyan state television has reported that Saif al-Islam arrived uninjured at an army base in the town of Zintan, 90 miles southwest of Tripoli, after being captured by Zintan fighters, part of one of the powerful Libyan militias that are friendly to the country’s National Transitional Council (NTC) [website]. Saif al-Islam is wanted [JURIST report] by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for crimes against humanity [warrant, PDF], but many in Libya want him tried locally, and the NTC previously insisted it will try any war criminals in Libya and not extradite them to The Hague. The militia fighters have stated that it is up to the NTC to decide where Saif al-Islam will be tried, but that until the new Libyan government is formed they will hold Saif al-Islam at Zintan, a base for militia forces in the Nafusa Mountains, which played a key part in the storming of Tripoli in the summer. Interim prime minister Abdel-Rahim al-Keeb is due to announce the new government this week.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] said Saturday that he will go to Libya in the next week [Reuters report] to discuss Saif al-Islam’s fate. Earlier this month Ottilia Maunganidze [profile], a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies [website], wrote that the NTC must meet its international obligations [JURIST op-ed] and ensure justice for human rights violations by surrendering Saif al-Islam to the ICC. Edsel Tupaz of Tupaz & Associates and Daniel Wagner [profiles] of Country Risk Solutions wrote this month that while Libya needs a “strategically targeted court system” with a specialized war crimes court [JURIST op-ed] at its core, currently there is no avoiding “the fact that there are no domestic judicial mechanisms [in Libya] … to enforce the voice of the ICC.” Ocampo last month stated that he has evidence against Saif al-Islam [JURIST report] for his role in planning attacks on Libyan civilians. According to Ocampo there is “substantial evidence” that Saif al-Islam hired mercenaries to assist him in carrying out plans to attack demonstrators that protested the rule of his father. Libyan rebel leaders allegedly captured Saif al-Islam [JURIST report] in August, but he was free by September.