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Saif al-Islam Gaddafi retains same convictions and arrogance – Zintan official | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Khalid al-Zintani, head of the media committee for Zintan, the city where Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is currently being held, denied reports that Saif al-Islam will be transferred to Tripoli to account for the Gaddafi regime’s funds hidden there. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was arrested approximately two months ago and is being held in the north-western Libyan city of Zintan.

Clashes had broken out in Tripoli between militias searching for Gaddafi’s hidden money in the Bab al-Aziziyah Compound, causing the media to speculate about the possibility of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi revealing the location of this hidden money to the new regime. However, Libyan Defense Minister Osama al-Juwali stressed that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi “has not left the location where he is being held in Zintan, and he will remain in custody until his trial.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Zintan on Monday, Khalid al-Zintani stressed that the reports about Saif al-Islam Gaddafi being transferred to Tripoli are “not true”. Al-Zintani also revealed that the capture of nearby Bani Walid by pro-Gaddafi fighters was due, in part, to the issue of Gaddafi regime affiliates and fighters being detained by the new Libyan authorities. As for media reports that the Libyan authorities are preparing for a large-scale operation against Bani Walid – with the objective of clearing the town of pro-Gaddafi elements, Al-Zintani said “there is no military operation against the city…discussions are still underway, and developments are being made, and some issues will take some time to be resolved.”

Al-Zintani, who is a member of the Zintan tribe, a traditionally close ally of the Warfalla tribe – the largest tribe in Libya and Bani Walid – revealed that one of the points of contention in the town is regarding “forming a local council that brings together all parties, from those who support the new regime to those who oppose it.”

Al-Zintani stressed that “the differences in the town [of Bani Walid] are similar to the differences that occur in any local council, and this is over issues such as the manner in which council members and council presidency is elected. There are those who are satisfied [with the current procedures], whilst others are not” adding “we are not trying to communicate to reach a consensus.”

Al-Zintani also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Zintan has participated in attempts to solve the problems in Bani Walid since the beginning, through initiatives and reconciliation committees, not through direct military intervention….military intervention should only occur in critical emergency situations.”

Al-Zintani revealed that “for us…we are only afraid of arms being smuggled into Bani Walid, and this is nothing more than a security precaution”. He added “in terms of the wider problems, the [Libya] Minister of Defense and some governors have gotten involved with this, and an initial agreement for a ceasefire has been made. The situation has remained calm until now, before we can reach a comprehensive and complete solution.”

As for the claims that pro-Gaddafi forces are still in control of Bani Walid, Khalid al-Zintani stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “this is not true…the [Libyan] Minister of Defense was speaking from the town of Bani Walid live on air, and he toured the town. The clashes that occurred were between two parties from the same tribe…these were problems over internal issues, nothing to do with the former regime, or the new regime, or the general situation in Libya.”

As for the treatment of detainees being held on suspicion of being affiliated to the former Gaddafi regime, al-Zintani stated “we are aware that there are abuses taking place…but I cannot define the extent of this. However, I can confirm to you that these abuses are not systematic, but are individual occurrences as a result of tension, suffering and the displacement of families, which in turn comes as a result of the bombardment of cities and the atrocities carried out by the former regime.”

He added that the problem does not lie in the detention [of former regime affiliates] itself, but in the manner that these detainees are being dealt with, and the slow court procedures and prosecutions. .

Whilst Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is undoubtedly the most prominent detainee being held in Zintan, a number of other former Gaddafi senior officers, including generals and colonels, as well as senior government officers, are also being held there. Zintan recently released 140 detainees on the condition that they agreed to put down their arms.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat about Saif al-Islam, Khalid al-Zintani described Saif al-Islam Gaddafi as an “exception prisoner” but added that “he is being treated in the same manner as the other detainees, although he is being held in a special location in Zintan.”

Al-Zintani revealed that “he is [being held] under the security of the Zintan Military Council, but his court case and prosecution comes under the direct supervision of the Libyan Attorney-General.”

He added that the Libyan Attorney-General had formed a special committee to investigate Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and it began its investigations some time ago. Today it is in the process of completing its investigation and collecting evidence, along with “satisfying the conditions for trial, and providing evidence and witnesses for the prosecution.”

Khalid al-Zintani also indicated that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s health is “very stable”, and that “he is not suffering from any illness, although should the situation necessitate it, the government would be in a position to provide all his medial requirements.”

He also stressed that “Saif al-Islam’s psychological state is stable; he holds to his same convictions, and maintains some of his same arrogance. The Libyan rebels, in their wisdom, have allowed him to remain stable psychologically and feel a measure of safety, and he will be subject to a fair trial.”

Al-Zintani revealed that “the detainees in Zintan have been entitled, since the beginning of the revolution, to telephone calls and visits under the auspices of humanitarian organizations.” He added that Zintan is trying to expand such practices for detainees being held in other Libyan regions, believing that this is something that would relieve tensions.

Asked whether there have been any attempts from pro-Gaddafi figures to secure the release of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, al-Zintani said “no…we in general – and thanks to the wisdom of the revolutionaries, the civilian leadership and their moral dealings with Saif al-Islam – have made sure that his family and supporters distance themselves from this, and do not think of any resistance or attempt to break him out of prison…the situation is secure, and no such attempt would succeed.”