(Updates with prosecutor’s comments starting in second paragraph.)
Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court said he’s in indirect contact with Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son and heir-apparent of the dead former Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi. He urged the fugitive to surrender.
“Through intermediaries, we have informal contact with Saif,” Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in an e-mailed statement from the court in The Hague in the Netherlands today. “The office of the prosecutor has made it clear that if he surrenders to the ICC, he has the right to be heard in court. He is innocent until proven guilty. The judges will decide.”
The ICC issued arrest warrants on June 27 for Saif Qaddafi, his father and military intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, accusing them of involvement in the death, injury, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the revolt against Muammar Qaddafi’s regime.
The former rebels who are now Libya’s interim leaders officially declared the country’s “liberation” on Oct. 23 following the death of Muammar Qaddafi after eight months of fighting. Saif Qaddafi, 39, whose whereabouts aren’t known, vowed to continue fighting and told the revolutionaries to “go to hell” in a one-minute audio message aired by a Syrian-based television station, Al-Arabiya television reported.
‘Make an Arrest’
A group of mercenaries is offering to move Qaddafi’s son to an African country that doesn’t recognize the international court, the prosecutor said. Moreno-Ocampo’s office “is also exploring the possibility to intercept any plane within the airspace of a state party in order to make an arrest,” he said.
Saif Qaddafi has been on the run since the National Transitional Council forced his father from Tripoli as it took control of the capital in August. The heir-apparent took a hard line against the uprising that began in mid-February and culminated in his father’s death on Oct. 20.
The younger Qaddafi promised “rivers of blood” if Libyans didn’t refrain from demonstrating against the government. He had been leading loyalist forces in the enclave of Bani Walid.
Muammar Qaddafi died while trying to escape from his besieged hometown of Sirte. Conflicting accounts emerged over the manner of his death, with Human Rights Watch saying evidence suggests he was executed and NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil saying initially that he died in “crossfire,” and later that he may have been killed by loyalists to silence him.
NATO Pulls Out
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which backed the rebels by enforcing an arms embargo and carrying out air strikes, said today its mission over Libya will formally end on Oct. 31. NATO took control of military operations on March 31 under a United Nations resolution to protect civilians from the regime.
The second of seven sons, Saif Qaddafi has a master’s degree in business administration from Vienna’s Imadec University and a degree in global government from the London School of Economics.
He was viewed by many in the west as someone they could deal with and the best hope for a peaceful transition in Libya, advocating a vision for his country that contrasted with his father’s policies and sometimes publicly clashing with him. That changed with the start of the revolt, as he became one of his father’s most outspoken supporters and a spokesman for the regime.
--Editors: Eddie Buckle, Andrew Atkinson.
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