Fearful Saif takes the first step in turning himself in

Gaddafi's best-known son has been having 'informal conversations' with ICC prosecutors

The prospect of Muammar Gaddafi's best-known son facing trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity suddenly increased last night with the revelation that he had been in touch with the International Criminal Court.

The ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, revealed there had been "informal conversations" with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who has been on the run since the Libyan regime fell in August, and whose father was killed last week, apparently trying to leave his home town of Sirte.

Abdel Majid Mlegta, a senior military official of Libya's National Transitional Council, said this week that Saif al-Islam and Abdullah al-Senussi, Muammar Gaddafi's former security chief and brother-in-law, wanted to surrender to the ICC because they felt unsafe. Both men are wanted in connection with the bombing and shooting of protesters when the revolt against the regime began in February.

There is no certainty about Saif al-Islam's whereabouts or condition, with conflicting reports that he is in Niger, Algeria or still in Libya and may be wounded. But an NTC source said that he wanted an aircraft to airlift him into ICC custody from the southern Libya desert.

Mr Ocampo said yesterday: "They are informal conversations. I think they are exploring the possibility to appear before the court... and if he considers himself innocent, he has the right to present this argument before the judges."

He added that once the court had received formal certification that Muammar Gaddafi was dead, the case against the dictator would be closed. But he said the case against Saif al-Islam and Mr al-Senussi was pressing because of evidence against them, including that "Saif was critically important in organising the killings of civilians in Libya".

Mr Ocampo said that if Saif was still in Libya, he could surrender to the interim government there. There were fears, however, that Saif al-Islam may be weighing up whether to flee to a friendly country which would not cooperate with the court. "We know he has a different option because apparently there is a group of mercenaries willing to move him to a country, probably Zimbabwe," Mr Ocampo said.

Amnesty International last night said the NTC had an obligation to ensure both Saif al-Islam and Mr al-Sanussi did not meet the same fate as the former's father and his brother Mutassim and should be allowed to stand trial at the ICC. Marek Marczynski, an Amnesty spokesman, said: "Investigating the men before the ICC offers an opportunity to ensure justice, truth and reparation for the victims of the crimes against humanity they are charged with committing against the Libyan people – justice that may have been denied if the unlawful killing of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is confirmed."

The African Union has criticised the ICC's preoccupation with Africa and has opposed the arrest warrant for President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, who has visited ICC member states, including Chad, without being arrested.

If Saif al-Islam does end up in the Hague, a public trial could be potentially embarrassing for European politicians, including members of Britain's previous Labour government. He could detail his contacts with the West during the period of rapprochement with the Gaddafi regime.

After Libya took responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, renounced terrorism and ended its nuclear weapons programme, Saif al-Islam was viewed by some Western leaders as Libya's main hope for political and human rights reforms.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'