Saif al-Islam Gaddafi: Libya promises fair trial for Muammar Gaddafi's son

Libyans celebrate the news of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's capture. There is strong public demand for him to face trial in Libya.</p>

Libyans celebrate the news of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's capture. There is strong public demand for him to face trial in Libya.

The eldest son of Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam, will receive a fair trial, Libya's Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib has promised.

Speaking after Saif was captured in the Libyan desert Saturday, El-Keib pledged the former ruler's heir would be treated in accordance with a new state of "freedom, law, justice and transparency":

"I want to assure our people and all nations of the world that Saif and those with him will be given a fair trial, with the guarantees of local and international law."

Saif was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in June on charges of crimes against humanity, but his trial will take place in Libya, the Associated Press reported.

Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam told the news agency that Saif should be tried at home, where he "committed crimes against the Libyan people."

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The ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, is due to visit Libya next week to discuss the issue with the country's National Transitional Council.

Saif's trial is likely to carry heavy symbolic value for Libyans, which is why there is strong public demand for legal proceedings to take place in Libya rather than The Hague. El-Keib said the trial would "turn the page on the phase of revolution."

A fair trial would provide the chance for Libya's new government to prove that the country is subject to the rule of law, after the violent death of Muammar Gaddafi in circumstances that remain unclear.

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Yet precisely because of its importance, the trial also risks being manipulated for political purposes, the BBC said:

There are concerns that the powerful militia holding Saif al-Islam may use him as a bargaining chip in negotiations over the make-up of Mr Keib's new cabinet, to be announced in the coming days.

Libyan prosecutors will begin interrogating Saif later on Sunday, a senior justice official told the BBC.

He will be tried on charges that carry the death penalty, Al Jazeera reported, citing Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagy.

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Meanwhile details of Saif's arrest continued to emerge Sunday. He resorted to a disguise in an attempt to evade capture, the commander of the mission that caught him told the Guardian:

Rebel fighters approached [Saif's vehicle] on foot, Saif threw himself face down and began rubbing dirt on his face. "He wanted to disguise himself," [Amur] said.

Amur raced up to him and ordered him to stand up, finding himself face to face with Saif al-Islam.

But the most notorious son of the late dictator claimed he was not one of the world's most wanted war crimes suspects, but a simple camel herder – Abdul Salem being the equivalent of a British "John Smith".

Saif asked his captors to shoot him, according to Amur, but they refused.