Libyan militia members captured Moammar Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent, Saif al-Islam, on Saturday, as he reportedly tried to make his way to Libya's southern border. The arrest of the 39-year-old Gadhafi eliminated the best hope the old regime's loyalists had for finding a new leader, and sparked celebrations across Libya. What will happen to Saif al-Islam now, and what does his capture mean for the country? Here, four central questions:
1. First off, will Saif even survive?
It's "not necessarily a foregone conclusion" that Saif al-Islam will live to face trial, says Jon Lee Anderson at The New Yorker. His father and one of his brothers were taken alive in the siege of Sirte, only to be summarily executed. And the fighters who captured Saif al-Islam are resisting handing him over to the interim national government. "It is now incumbent upon Libyan authorities to ensure that justice is dispensed," says the United Arab Emirates' Khaleej Times in an editorial. Saif al-Islam must be safely brought "before the court of law."
2. Will he be tried in Libya, The Hague, or both?
Saif al-Islam's arrest "confronts the new Libyan government with a dilemma," says Philippe Sands at Britain's Guardian. Should the new leaders satisfy Libyans' desire to see a man accused of killing peaceful protesters brought to justice on Libyan soil — or should they just "ship him off to The Hague" to face charges of crimes against humanity filed in the International Criminal Court (ICC)? As a member of the United Nations, the new regime "cannot lawfully ignore the ICC judges and decide that Saif will be tried under local law," but it might find a way to pass judgment at home before handing him over.
3. Can he get a fair trial?
Libya's interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keeb promised a fair trial. "We are going to show Saif al-Islam who we are — we are not some armed band, we are freedom-seekers," el-Keeb tells The Tripoli Post. Libyan militia members holding Gadhafi say they intend to hold him in the town of Zintan until a trial is arranged, and the interim government has indicated that it wants to try him inside the country. But Western leaders fear that a trial in Libya would be a farce leading to a swift guilty verdict, say Tom Kelly and Rebecca Evans in Britain's Daily Mail, and that "the British-educated Saif could face a firing squad."
4. Will Saif name names?
If Saif al-Islam does make it into the dock at The Hague, says the UAE's Khaleej Times, he could make world leaders very uncomfortable. It will be interesting to see which of them "were hand-in-glove with his father, and looked the other way round for reasons of exigency, as the fallen dictator indulged in grave human rights excesses."
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