Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s fugitive son Seif al-Islam and one-time successor has been arrested in the south of the country, a senior National Transitional Council official said on Saturday.
Seif al-Islam, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), was “arrested in southern Libya” by former rebel forces, NTC justice minister Mohammed al-Allagui told AFP, declining to give any details.
Seif al-Islam was shown hours later nursing a hand injury in a photograph aired on Free Libya TV after his capture.
The photograph showed Seif al-Islam on what appears to be a reclining sofa with his fingers wrapped in bandages and his legs covered in a blanket.
But Seif al-Islam told Reuters that he is alright and that his hand was injured in an airstrike over a month ago.
Asked by Reuters correspondent Marie-Louise Gumuchian on the plane which flew him to the town of Zintan if he was feeling all right, Qaddafi said simply: “Yes.”
Reluctant to speak at length, the London-educated 39-year-old son of Muammar Qaddafi was asked about bandages on the thumb and two fingers of his right hand. “Air force, air force,” he said. Asked if that meant a NATO air strike, he said: “Yes. One month ago.”
Aides to Qaddafi had said his motorcade was caught by a NATO air strike as he tried to flee the pro-Qaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid, near Tripoli, on Oct. 19, the day before his father was captured and killed in his home town of Sirte.
After the brief exchange with the heavily bearded prisoner, Libyan Reuters journalists who have met Seif al-Islam said they had no doubt that was indeed him - though he repeatedly declined to confirm his identity outright.
NTC commander Bashir al-Tlayeb of Zintan brigades had confirmed to reporters fromTripoli that Seif al-Islam was arrested near the southern town of Obari along with three of his companions.
Tlayeb said Seif al-Islam was now in the hands of NTC fighters in Zintan and that he would remain with them until the formation of a new Libyan government.
The commander refused to comment on where the son of former Libyan strongman will be tried for his alleged crimes.
But another NTC field commander, Adel Tarhouni, told Al Arabiya that Seif al-Islam will be tried in Libya and that fighters had raised the issue with Prime Minister Abdul al-Raheem al-Qeeb.
NTC fighter Meftah Ahmad Othman told Al Arabiya from the coastal city of Sirte that Seif al-Islam was captured in a dawn ambush carried out by “Khaled Bin al-Walid” fighters who are part of “Abu Bakr al-Siddiq” brigade.
Ahmad Othman added that Seif al-Islam was flown to Zintan and that his capture was not announced until his detention site was fully secured.
One of his companions is a senior commander in the Qaddafi’s regime, but his name was not immediately revealed, Ahmad Othman said.
The ICC in the Hague issued warrants on June 27 against Seif al-Islam as well as his father and Abdullah al-Senussi, former intelligence chief, on charges of crimes against humanity.
Tarhouni said that reports suggest that Senussi and his family have fled to Algeria.
Al Arabiya correspondent from Tripoli says news of the arrest of Seif al-Islam was received with ‘great jubilation’ adding that many Libyans said the joy will only be complete when Senussi is arrested.
The correspondent also said that large crowds have gathered in Zintan airport as plans were underway to fly Seif al-Islam to another place called Rahibat where he could be kept safe.
Celebratory gunfire could be heard in the background during a phone call with Al Arabiya's correspondent from Tripoli.
Seif al-Islam, at 39 is the oldest of Qaddafi’s seven children. Before the February uprising in Libya, he was seen in the West as a liberal reformist, but his staunch support for his father’s brutal crackdown of the uprising severely damaged his domestic and international image.”
Libyan PM promises 'fair trial'
Libya’s interim prime minister, Abdel Rahim al-Kib, said Saturday that Seif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of the slain leader of Libya, will be given a “fair trial.”
“I reassure our people and the world that Seif, and those with him, will be given a fair trial in which international rights and norms will be guaranteed,” Kib told a news conference in Zintan after formally announcing the arrest of Qaddafi’s favorite son.
“The arrest of Seif al-Qaddafi crowns the sacrifices made by our great people,” he said in reference to the uprising that ended the 42-year rule of Muammar Qaddafi.
Kib described the capture of Seif al-Islam a “historic” day.
“On this historic occasion I congratulate the men and women of Libya and the thwar (revolutionaries) of Libya,” said Kib, adding he hoped that Seif’s capture would mark a new start for Libya.
He said Seif al-Islam was “under the control of Zintan’s fighters” responsible for his arrest.
Seif al-Islam is wanted by the ICC.
The ICC issued warrants on June 27 against Seif al-Islam, as well as his father and Abdullah al-Senussi, the late dictator’s intelligence chief, on charges of crimes against humanity in crushing anti-regime protests.
News of the 39-year-old’s capture was made earlier by Mohammed al-Allagui, justice minister in the National Transitional Council, who told AFP he had been arrested in southern Libya without further details.