Niger will allow Libya’s transitional government to interrogate Muammar Qaddafi’s son Saadi, who fled to the neighboring country after his father lost control of Tripoli and is wanted on suspicion of “armed intimidation.”
Niger recognizes the National Transitional Council as the only legitimate authority in Libya and its members can “come freely” to Niger, Justice Minister Marou Amadou was quoted as saying today by Voix du Sahel, a state radio station based in the Nigerien capital, Niamey.
At least 32 Libyans, including three generals, have sought refuge in Niger since NTC forces stormed the Libyan capital at the end of August. Saadi Qaddafi was welcomed in Niger for “humanitarian reasons,” Amadou said.
Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for the younger Qaddafi on Sept. 29 at the request of the NTC for allegedly “misappropriating properties through force and armed intimidation” when he headed the Libyan Football Federation. The police group, based in Lyon, France, said he should be located, arrested and handed over to Libyan authorities.
The NTC is seeking to round up former officials who served in Muammar Qaddafi’s government to try them in Libya. Interpol issued so-called red notices for Qaddafi, another son, Saif al-Islam, and his former military intelligence director, Abdullah al-Senussi, at the request of the International Criminal Court on Sept. 9 for alleged crimes against humanity.
The council’s drive to unite the factions that rebelled against Qaddafi’s 42-year rule and end the seven-month conflict is being hampered by political infighting and the doggedness of Qaddafi’s supporters, who have maintained their hold on the last two strongholds of Bani Walid and Sirte for a month.
Fighting reduced oil output and disrupted power supplies in the country with Africa’s largest crude reserves. Libya is producing 300,000 barrels a day of oil, Ali Tarhouni, who oversees the finance and oil ministries, said last week.
Thousands of residents of Sirte, Qaddafi’s hometown, fled during a lull in fighting as medical workers said the humanitarian situation is worsening, Al Jazeera reported today.
Interpol’s decision to issue the red notice “is a clear political decision” to recognize the NTC’s authority “without appropriate regard to the current absence of a functioning, effective and fair system of justice in Libya,” Nick Kaufman, who said he is acting as Saadi’s lawyer, wrote in an e-mailed statement today.
Saadi Qaddafi “strenuously denies” the allegations and “continues to call on all sides to seek a negotiated and peaceful resolution to the present conflict,” according to the statement.
The 38-year-old is also subject to a United Nations travel ban and asset freeze imposed in March because he was a commander of military units allegedly involved in the repression of demonstrations during Libya’s uprising.