Gadhafi's son's surrender request: What should Libya do?

Saif al-Islam wants to face war crimes charges at The Hague — reportedly because he's afraid of what will happen if his countrymen catch him

Moammar Gadhafi's eldest son, Saif al-Islam
(Image credit: REUTERS/Chris Helgren)

Moammar Gadhafi's one-time heir, Saif al-Islam, has escaped Libya into neighboring Niger, according to reports early Friday. Once considered a reformer, Saif had vowed to fight and die on Libyan soil, but now apparently wants to avoid the fate of his father and brother Mutassim, who were captured before dying in rebel custody. Saif is the only one of Gadhafi's eight children who is still on the lam, and sources within Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) say Saif is negotiating to turn himself into the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, which has indicted him for war crimes. How should Libya's new leaders handle this case?

Libya should let the ICC have him: The rebels are clearly the "military victors," says Catholic Online. But they won't be the "moral victors" unless they respect the human rights of those who surrender. The alleged murders of Gadhafi and many of his supporters were not a good start. In the long run, letting Saif al-Islam "face justice" at the ICC will be better for the NTC than hunting him down and killing him.

"Saif al-Islam Gadhafi begging to surrender to ICC"

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And there will be plenty of Gadhafi loyalists to try in Libya: Even if Libya's new leaders let the ICC handle Saif al-Islam, says Alison Cole at Britain's Guardian, they'll still have plenty of opportunities to prosecute members of the Gadhafi regime on Libyan soil. To satisfy cries for justice at home and abroad, the NTC should consider "creating a 'hybrid' court" that could rule on international war crimes charges as well as violations of Libyan law.

"A hybrid court could secure justice in Libya"

The NTC shouldn't worry about Gadhafi's son: Saif al-Islam's "influence over the country's loyalist forces died in large measure with his father," says Jason Ditz at Antiwar. There's no reason to believe he could "lead an insurgency even if he had a mind to." Libya's transitional leaders should just let Saif al-Islam worry about his own fate. They have more important challenges ahead, like heading off a renewed civil war.

"Report: Saif al-Islam Gadhafi negotiating surrender to Hague"

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