Muammar Gaddafi’s son and one-time heir apparent will not be sent to The Hague, according to Libya’s information ministry. A trial is definitely in Saif al-Islam’s future – but on home territory.
World powers have urged the National Transitional Council (NTC) to extradite the prisoner to the International Criminal Court in Europe. The Hague tribunal wants to try Saif al-Islam for crimes against humanity. The new Libyan authorities, however, have pledged a home trial for the colonel’s son in an attempt to establish its judiciary.
However, the NTC may have a hard time actually trying the younger Gaddafi. His captors, a Zintan brigade of militia loyal to the new regime, say they have no intention of handing their prisoner over to the NTC. The head of Zintan’s military council told the Associated Press that “Saif al-Islam is like any other local prisoner and we will keep him in Zintan until a court system is established.”
While the tug-of-prisoner-of-war continues, Saif al-Islam has his own wishes for his fate. According to the militiamen who captured him, Gaddafi’s favorite son asked his captors to “fire a bullet in his head and take him dead.” Zintan’s military council say he will be kept prisoner in an undisclosed location, but in compete accordance with international law.
The statement by the Zintan fighters raises new questions about the NTC’s authority over the entire country – and whether powerful regional factions with armed fighters are able to act autonomously, even on issues of the highest national interest.
The most prominent example of the NTC’s lack of control is of course the capture and alleged accidental shooting of Muammar Gaddafi himself. He and another one of his sons, Muatassim, were caught by a strong regional group called the Misrata Military Council – and were dead by the end of the day. Their bodies were later displayed in cold storage as trophies for days, with people lining up to see them and take pictures.