TRIPOLI (AFP) – Ousted Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’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.
As the last top figure of the Kadhafi regime to have evaded capture or not to have escaped abroad, news of his arrest was greeted in Tripoli by gunmen firing into the air in celebration and the honking of car horns.
It came a day before the NTC was expected to name a new government.
The operations chief of former rebels in Zintan, Bashir Taib, told a news conference that his fighters had arrested Seif along with three aides in the Ubari region of southern Libya.
Kadhafi’s son will be taken to Zintan, 170 kilometres (110 miles) southwest of Tripoli, he said.
The ICC issued warrants on June 27 against Seif al-Islam, 39, 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.
Seif defied premature reports of his arrest in August during the fall of Tripoli to rebel forces, confidently surfacing before news cameras outside a hotel used by foreign journalists.
The ICC’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo predicted on November 9 that the arrest of Seif, regarded as a reformist in Kadhafi’s regime before the revolt broke out in mid-February, was just a matter of time.
“The question is not if he will be arrested, it’s when,” he told a news conference at the court’s headquarters in The Hague. “It’s a matter of time, Seif will face justice, that’s his destiny.”
A week earlier, the prosecutor told the UN Security Council that the ICC had “received questions from individuals linked to Seif al-Islam about the legal conditions attaching to his potential surrender.”
Seif’s representatives had asked what would happen to him if he appeared before judges and the various conviction and acquittal possibilities, the prosecutor told the Security Council which referred the Libya case to the ICC.
ICC investigators have visited Libya to collect more evidence in the case against Seif and also into allegations of mass rapes by Kadhafi forces during the crackdown against protesters before the revolt turned into full-blown civil war.
Kadhafi himself was killed on October 20 when forces of Libya’s new regime stormed his home town of Sirte.
Five days later, a Tuareg official in Niger said that both Seif and Senussi were poised to enter the country from southern Libya, while on October 27 security sources said the former intelligence chief had reached Mali.
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