Last updated: 25 October, 2011

Kadhafi son Seif al-Islam near Niger border

Moamer Kadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam and his former intelligence chief, the two most wanted fugitives from the slain despot’s ousted regime, were poised Tuesday to cross the border into Niger, a Tuareg official said.

The pair, wanted by the International Criminal Court, had been expected to seek refuge in Niger — which already shelters dozens of former regime officials — following Kadhafi’s death and the fall of his hometown Sirte on Thursday.

Seif al-Islam “is near the Niger border, he hasn’t entered Niger yet but he’s close,” a local official from the northern Niger Agadez region told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“It appears he is being escorted by former Tuareg fighters but I am not yet able to confirm this,” the official added.

The local official said that Abdullah al-Senussi, a former intelligence chief and Kadhafi’s brother-in-law, was also approaching the border with Niger.

“Both of them are near the Niger border, they can’t be very far from each other,” he said.

Interpol issued a “red notice” in September for the arrest of Moamer Kadhafi, who was killed on Thursday, Seif al-Islam and Senussi.

In June, International Criminal Court judges issued arrest warrants against the three for “crimes against humanity” by troops under their orders, using “lethal force” to quell the uprising against his regime.

A Niger government source said Saturday that Senussi, 62, had been spotted in northern Niger, but that his presence in the country was “not yet officially established.”

In Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi, a senior official of the National Transitional Council, interim oil and finance minister Ali Tarhuni told reporters that Seif al-Islam posed no danger to the new regime.

“Seif al-Islam is not a threat. His father, his army, his mercenaries have been conquered,” Tarhuni said.

He added: “I don’t know where he is.”

France may demand Senussi’s extradition if he is arrested by Niamey, since a Paris court sentenced him in absentia to life in prison for the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airliner that claimed 170 lives.

So far 32 members of Kadhafi’s entourage including his son Saadi have taken refuge in Niger for “humanitarian” reasons.

Among them are three generals and the head of Kadhafi’s personal bodyguards, Mansur Daw, according to the authorities, who say they are under surveillance but have not been detained.

However on Thursday in Kadhafi’s hometown Sirte where the strongman was tracked down, local medical staff and a fighter said Daou was wounded there, and Free Libya television in Tripoli said he was captured.

Niger’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum told AFP on Friday that the end of the Libyan conflict would allow it to lift restrictions on senior Kadhafi loyalists who sought refuge there, except Kadhafi’s son Saadi.

“Of the 32 people who are in Niger, only one has a clear judicial status, Mr Saadi Kadhafi. He’s the target of a UN Security Council resolution travel ban. He’s in Niger, we’re obliged to apply this resolution,” Bazoum told AFP during a visit to Paris.