Sunday, 20 November 2011

From east to west, Libyans cheer Gaddafi son's capture

From the eastern city of Benghazi, where the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi began, to the western capital of Tripoli, joyful Libyans celebrated the capture of Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi's son and one-time heir apparent.

"Finally we beat him, after pointing at us with his finger on the television and threatening us. Thank God. We were under his threats and now we have the upper hand after this victory," said Waleed Fkainy, who fought Gaddafi's forces in the Western mountains during the uprising.

The British educated Saif al-Islam's zeal in opposing the revolution that toppled his father undid his image as a reformer. The 39-year-old turned soldier when rebels rose up, and staged defiant TV appearances, threatening his father's enemies and vowing to die on Libyan soil rather than capitulate.

As news of his capture in Libya's southern desert overnight spread, crowds across the country cheered, waved the new national flag and fired into the air.

"I hope that now we've arrested Saif we won't have to think about the family any more," Abdu Salam al-Sghaibi, 53, a journalist who was shopping in Benghazi's old town, said.

In the western mountain town of Zintan, south of Tripoli, crowds mobbed the plane that brought Saif al-Islam there after his capture. Television footage showed him nursing an injured hand, though he later told Reuters he sustained the injury in a NATO air strike weeks ago.

Murad Said, in Tripoli, said: "By God's will we will become better and better in the wake of the capture of Saif al-Islam. We will start the battle to build Libya away from the control of Gaddafi the tyrant and his cronies."

In Benghazi, several people said they hoped his fingers had been cut off, a reference to a television interview during the revolution, in which he threatened rebels, pointing his index finger and gesticulating.

"We expected that his fingers would be cut off," said Karim Gaddari, an unemployed 29-year-old.

The few people who had gathered at the city's Freedom Square, where weeks ago thousands had feted Gaddafi's death, quickly dispersed.

"It won't change anything. He has no influence any more," said Osama Omar al-Mehdoui, 38, shopping for revolutionary souvenirs.

Muammar Gaddafi was killed a month ago on Sunday after being captured in his home town.

The European Union and NATO, which wound up a seven-month operation in Libya at the end of October, called on Libya's new rulers to ensure Saif al-Islam received justice in cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC)

He was indicted, along with his father, for crimes against humanity over his alleged role in killing demonstrators.

"This is the final chapter of the Libyan drama," Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam told Reuters. "We will put him on trial in Libya and he will be judged by Libyan law for his crimes."

"I am happy and sad. Happy because we were able to capture him, sad because they will hand him over to the International Criminal Court," said Qais Abdel Nasser, 29, a soccer player in Benghazi's old town.

"Of course he should be tried in Libya. It's not just me who thinks so. All Libyans want him to be tried here."

No comments:

Post a Comment