News / Africa

Niger: Saif al-Islam Gadhafi Would be Transferred Over to ICC

Saif al-Islam, the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, August 23, 2011. (file photo)
Saif al-Islam, the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, August 23, 2011. (file photo)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is trying to arrange the surrender of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, who is on the run and could be heading for Niger.

The new civilian government in Niger says the eldest son of late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi would be turned over to the court if he arrives in the country. 

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi has been on the run since he and his father, the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, fled Tripoli in August.  ICC prosecutors say they are trying to arrange his surrender on charges of crimes against humanity.

Throughout Libya's rebellion, several convoys of Gadhafi allies have crossed into Niger on what the government in Niamey calls humanitarian grounds.  

Habi Mahamadou Salissou is a senior member of Niger's coalition government.  He says surrender is Saif al-Islam's best option.

If the International Criminal Court is in talks with him, Salissou says, it is best that Saif al-Islam go of his own accord, rather than be hunted and caught by Libyans, who, Salissou says, will end up killing him as they did his brother and father.

Salissou says Niger does not know where Saif al-Islam is hiding, but that if he is in Niger, the government will discuss how best to transfer him to the International Criminal Court.

Because Niger is a signatory to the international court, Salissou says, it is obliged to respect its commitments.  But it will do so while protecting the life of all those on Nigerien soil.

Moammar Gadhafi remains popular among ethnic Tuaregs in Niger and Mali, many of whom fought in his army.  The late Libyan leader backed, then helped negotiate the end of, Tuareg rebellions against the governments in Niamey and Bamako.

The two countries say they are working together with Tripoli's interim leaders to arrange for the return to Libya of some Tuareg veterans of the Gadhafi army.  Large groups of armed Tuaregs who fled Libya are raising concerns about renewed instability in northern Niger and Mali as well as the spread of weapons to al-Qaida affiliated terrorists in the Sahel.  

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