ICC urges Libya to hand over Kadhafi's son
The world war crimes court said Saturday Libya was obliged to turn over Moamer Kadhafi's captured son Seif al-Islam and will send its chief prosecutor there next week for talks on the case.
But a spokesman for the International Criminal Court did not exclude the possibility of a trial before Libyan courts as world governments called on the new leaders in the north African state to ensure that justice is done.
ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will head to Libya next week for talks with the transitional government on the arrest of Seif, wanted by The Hague-based court for crimes against humanity under the Kadhafi regime.
"We are coordinating with the Libyan Ministry of Justice to ensure that any solution in regards to Seif al-Islam's arrest is in accordance with the law," his spokeswoman Florence Olara told AFP, saying Moreno-Ocampo "welcomed the arrest".
Seif was arrested in the south of Libya, a senior National Transitional Council official said Saturday, almost a month to the day since the capture and gruesome killing of his father Moamer Kadhafi.
"The Libyan authorities have an obligation to cooperate with the court, including with respect to the arrest and surrender of Seif al-Islam to the court as indicated in the UN's resolution," ICC spokesman Fadi Al-Abdallah told AFP.
"If they want a trial in Libya, they must submit a request for dismissal and procedures in Libya must be conducted on the same charges as those contained in the warrant of the ICC," El-Abdallah said.
The ICC issued warrants on June 27 against the late Kadhafi, Seif and Kadhafi's security chief Adullah al-Senussi, accusing them of crimes against humanity during the crackdown against Libyan protests in mid-February.
Seif is accused together with his late father of orchestrating a plan to put down the Libyan revolt by "any means necessary".
The crimes include the murder and persecution of hundreds of demonstrators and the wounding of hundreds of others when Libyan troops opened fire on protestors to quell the uprising, using machine guns, anti-aircraft weapons and snipers.
The ignominous end of the ousted dictator and another son Mutassim, who also died after his capture last month, has added to concerns about the treatment of Seif, who was regarded as Kadhafi's heir apparent.
The United States led international calls for Libya's new rulers to ensure a fair trial and "humane treatment" for Seif, whose capture ended a three-month manhunt.
The State Department, which could not independently confirm the arrest, said Seif's capture and trial "would be another step away from a 40-year dark chapter in Libyan history and help move the Libyan people toward the peaceful and democratic future they deserve."
Similar sentiments were echoed by NATO as well as Britain and France which alongside the United States were at the forefront of the military campaign to protect civilians and support rebels during the Libyan conflict.
"It is a great achievement for the Libyan people and must now become a victory for international justice too," said British Prime Minister David Cameron.
"The fate of the Kadhafis should act as a warning to brutal dictators everywhere."
The 39-year-old Seif used to have strong links to Britain, studying at the London School of Economics. But these ties became an embarrassment for the LSE once the Libyan revolt began and the institution cut its links with Seif.
"We trust that the Libyan authorities and the International Criminal Court will ensure that justice runs its course, so that the new Libya can be built on the rule of law and respect for human rights," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said.
"The Libyan authorities should now ensure that Seif al-Islam is brought to justice in accordance with the principles of due process and in full cooperation with the International Criminal Court," a statement from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
Moreno-Ocampo told the UN Security Council earlier this month that his office was in contact "individuals linked to Seif al-Islam" to negotiate the terms of his surrender.
Seif's representatives had asked what would happen to him if he appeared before judges and the various possible outcomes, the prosecutor told the Council on November 2 after it referred the Libya case to the ICC.
The court said Seif could request the judges not to order his return to Libya after any conviction. Judges could also order him extradited to another state, the prosecutor said.
© 2011 AFP