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Gaddafi's son in talks with court

The International Criminal Court is in indirect negotiations with Muammar Gaddafi's son about his possible surrender for trial, the chief prosecutor has said.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo said talks were being held through intermediaries, whom he did not identify.

He said they wanted to assure Saif al-Islam Gaddafi that he would receive a fair trial and that he could be helped to find a new country of residence if acquitted. He said he did not know exactly where Saif Gaddafi is.

The 39-year-old was reported to be heading through the desert to Mali, where the former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi fled on Wednesday.

Saif Gaddafi and al-Senoussi were indicted in June for unleashing a campaign of murder and torture to suppress the uprising against the Gaddafi regime that broke out in February.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said he believed Saif Gaddafi was also in touch with unidentified mercenaries offering to find him refuge in an African country that does not co-operate with the court.

He mentioned Zimbabwe as a likely possibility, and said the court was in contact with other countries to prevent Saif Gaddafi's escape by denying any plane carrying him permission to fly through its air space.

"We are having informal conversations with Saif Gaddafi in order to see if he can be surrendered to the court," Mr Moreno-Ocampo said in the Hague.

"We know he has a different option because apparently there is a group of mercenaries willing to move him to a country, probably Zimbabwe," the prosecutor said. Some of the mercenaries may be from South Africa.

Saif Gaddafi was pressing for clarifications about his fate should he be acquitted, and Mr Moreno-Ocampo said he has made it clear to the fugitive that he could ask the judges to send him to a country other than Libya. The prosecutor said: "He says he is innocent and he will prove his innocence."

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