Saif al-Islam sources reportedly discussing terms of surrender with ICC

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has received questions from individuals linked to Saif al-Islam Qaddafi about the legal conditions attached to his potential surrender and what would happen if he were convicted or acquitted, chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told Al Arabiya New York correspondent Talal Al-Haj on Wednesday.

“Someone close to Saif approached someone related with Saif and he was asking a few questions about the possible surrender of Saif to the ICC, including questions about what happened if he is convicted, what happens if he is acquitted, where he is going, so we clarified this issue – but we have nothing to negotiate,” Moreno-Ocampo said.

The ICC, based in The Hague, said last week it made informal contact with Saif and is seeking to arrest him and bring him to trial on the charges stemming from Libya’s civil war.

Both Saif, the fugitive son of Libya’s toppled late leader Muammar Qaddafi, and Libya’s former intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, have been charged with crimes against humanity for the bombing and shooting of civilian protesters during Libya’s mass anti-government uprising, which began in February.

“We are prosecuting him,” Moreno-Ocampo said. “We have evidence; the judges issued an arrest warrant, so our job is to try to ensure that he appears before the judges.”

But Moreno-Ocampo said the identities of the intermediary negotiators between Saif and the ICC remain a mystery.

“We never met directly with the person coming from Saif, so in fact I don’t know the identity of this person. We do it through a person who is connected with Saif, so there are like two intermediaries talking between them.”

Moreno-Ocampo then highlighted fears that mercenaries were trying to help Qaddafi’s heir-apparent to escape.

“We are worried about the possibility that some group of mercenaries is helping Saif or Senussi to escape and also we like to focus attention to this aspect,” he said.

The ICC prosecutor set the scene for a Saif’s potential surrender, explaining what would happen if he gave himself up to the international court.

“If Saif surrenders, he has to go to The Hague, then immediately he will go before the judges, who will inform him of his rights, and then his lawyer will have to start to receive our evidence, and then we go to the confidential charges,” he explained.

Investigations into mass rape order

In a speech to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, Moreno-Ocampo said that charges against Muammar Qaddafi could be formally dropped when the court gets official proof of the strongman’s death, the prosecutor said.

Moreno-Ocampo also said he was investigating whether the former Libyan leader, who died shortly after his capture by government forces last month, and his former spy chief ordered mass rapes.

“There are allegations of crimes committed by NATO forces, allegations of crimes committed by NTC-related forces ... as well as allegations of additional crimes committed by pro-Qaddafi forces,” Moreno-Ocampo said at the U.N..

“These allegations will be examined impartially and independently by the prosecution,” he said.

NATO has denied allegations of deliberately targeting civilians during its seven-month campaign of air strikes against Qaddafi’s forces, which the alliance ended on Monday. Libya’s National Transitional Council has vowed to investigate alleged executions and abuse of suspected Qaddafi supporters.

Whereabouts of Saif and Senussi

Meanwhile, Moreno-Ocampo said his office was “galvanizing efforts” to bring Saif and Senussi to be arrested and brought to justice.

Reports that Al-Senussi passed from Niger into Mali were circulated last week by security sources from both countries.

“Abdullah al-Senussi has arrived in the Malian desert, from Niger,” where he was believed to be hiding under the protection of some Tuaregs, a Niger security source said on condition of anonymity last Thursday.

The information was confirmed by a security source from northern Mali, who said Senussi was travelling with a small group.

It was not known if Saif al-Islam was travelling with the group.

South African mercenaries who allegedly took part in Muammar Qaddafi’s failed escape bid were reportedly still “taking care of Saif al-Islam,” the Beeld newspaper reported last Thursday.

The South Africans were hired by a company with close ties to Qaddafi, and trained his presidential guard and handled some of his offshore financial dealings, the Afrikaans-language paper said.

South Africans have also reportedly been involved in transporting Qaddafi’s gold, diamonds and foreign currency to Niger and helping his wife and three of children flee Tripoli, the paper said.