‘Gaddafi son now just a helpless criminal’

Residents of Zintan said that Saif was being moved regularly from one secret location to another to ensure his safety.

Zintan: Muammar Gaddafi`s once-powerful son Saif al-Islam is now just a "helpless criminal" in the Libyan hilltown of Zintan where he can stay until he goes on trial, officials and town residents say.

"For Zintan he is just a helpless criminal. He is not a danger. We have no problem in keeping him here and we can hold him until his trial begins if it is better for Libya," said Ibrahim Turki, the National Transitional Council`s health coordinator in Zintan.

"The Libyan authorities will decide his fate," he said.

Residents of Zintan, a southern Libyan town now famous for its high-profile captive, said that Saif was being moved regularly from one secret location to another to ensure his safety and protect him from the brutal end faced by his

On October 20, Gaddafi was lynched by his captors in Libya`s western city of Misrata. Leaked footage of the deposed leader`s final moments showed his bloodied, limp body being hauled onto the back of a pick-up truck as dozens of frenzied gunmen fired in air.

Gaddafi`s death triggered widespread global condemnation and forced Libya`s new rulers to launch an investigation into the circumstances of his killing.

Some Zintan residents said they initially believed Seif would also face a violent death, but are now confident he will likely live long enough to go on trial.

"We were initially worried that he may face the same fate as his father. But he is in safe custody and poses no danger to Zintan or to Libya," said Shaban al-Waer, 48, a self-employed resident of the town.

"He can be held here even for a year without any problem," he said.

Saif`s location has remained a closely guarded secret, with residents saying there has been no sign of the captive since his initial arrest on November 19. NTC officials have only confirmed that Saif is still in Zintan.

In the days after Saif`s capture, media reports suggested that Zintan`s military council was refusing to hand him over to NTC officials unless the commander of the unit that captured him was named Libya`s defence minister.

Last week, the commander, Osama Juili, was given the defence minister`s post.


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