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Gaddafi son to leave political asylum in Niger

Text by Marc Perelman

Latest update : 2012-09-07

Saadi Gaddafi, son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, will be allowed to leave Niger, where he sought asylum after the fall of his father's regime. FRANCE 24 spoke to his lawyer, who declined to confirm whether Saadi was bound for South Africa.

Saadi Gaddafi, one of the late Moammar Gaddafi's sons, may have found a new home, FRANCE 24 has learned. The former football player, who has been living in Niger for the past year following the collapse of his father’s regime, may be headed to South Africa.

Niger, which has refused to send Saadi, 39, to his native Libya to face charges out of concern that he would not be treated fairly, has agreed to let him leave for South Africa. South Africa has reportedly agreed to welcome him, according to sources close to the issue.

However, the transfer is currently blocked because Saadi is under a travel ban due to sanctions imposed on Libya by the United Nations Security Council last year.

His Israeli lawyer, Nick Kaufman, confirmed that Niger had agreed to let him leave.

"It's no secret that the minister for foreign affairs in Niger, Mister Bazoum Mohamed, has given his permission for my client to leave the country," Kaufman told FRANCE 24 in Jerusalem. "We're now checking our options to see where he could possibly go."

He refused to either confirm or deny that South Africa was his most likely destination. "Mister Gaddafi had contacted a number of countries, and I've been in contact with the most senior officials in those countries. I can't comment on the status of those negotiations," Kaufman said.

He did say that he had applied to the United Nations Sanctions Committee on Libya for a one-time waiver of Gaddafi's travel ban to let him leave Niger. However, the issue is being held up at the committee, which comprises the 15 members of the Security Council.

Kaufman claims that at least one member state has asked for more information, adding that he did not know which countries were behind the move and suspected that “murky politics” were behind the unusual delay. “I would assume that the United Nations sanctions committee, of all institutions, operates according to the rule of law and due process, and in due course it will approve my client's request to lift the travel ban," Kaufman said.

After arriving in Niger in September 2011, Saadi was granted asylum for “humanitarian reasons”. But after he granted an interview to Al Arabiya television in February 2012 calling for the overthrow of the new regime in Libya, he has been put under house arrest by Nigerien authorities.

But he faces no charges in that country and its authorities have been actively seeking to find him a new home. Kaufman told FRANCE 24 that there had been one assassination attempt against his client in Niger and that his life was “in considerable danger” because of the unrest in the region, especially in neighbouring Mali.

Libya would like Gaddafi handed over to face charges of allegedly misappropriating properties through force and armed intimidation when he headed the Libyan Football Federation. At the request of the new Libyan authorities, Interpol has issued a so-called “red notice”calling on its 188 member states to help arrest him.

However, unlike his brother Saif al-Islam, Saadi Gaddafi is not sought by the International Criminal Court. Saif al-Islam is in Libyan custody and is the subject of a dispute between Libya and the ICC to figure out who will judge him.

On September 5, Abdallah al Senoussi – Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief, who was the subject of an ICC arrest warrant and who was wanted by several countries – was transferred from Mauritania to Libya.

Date created : 2012-09-07

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