Rebel leader wants Gaddafi captured alive to face trial
The leader of the Libyan opposition Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, said Monday he wants embattled leader Moamer Gaddafi captured and put on trial rather than killed, DPA reported.
"We hope that he is captured alive so that he will be given a fair trial, which the world can witness," Abdul Jalil told a news conference in the eastern city of Benghazi.
"But I have no idea how he will defend himself against all these crimes he committed against the Libyan people and the world," Abdul Jalil said, describing Gaddafi as the biggest dictator in world.
As clashes between the rebels and government forces engulfed the heart of Tripoli, Gaddafi's whereabouts remained unknown - even as the likely end of his 42-year rule was being celebrated.
Contradictory reports emerged on whether Gaddafi was still inside his Tripoli compound or had escaped to the border with Algeria. Some claimed he had fled to his coastal hometown of Sirte.
Abdul Jalil said that the "era of Gaddafi is over," as he cautioned the Libyan people to "realize that the long period ahead will not be a bed of roses. We will face challenges and responsibilities."
"We are on the threshold of a new era, and will work to establish the principles this revolution was based on: Freedom, equality, justice, democracy, and transparency within a moderate Islamic framework."
Rebels said they expected to take complete control of the capital within hours, an opposition fighter in Tripoli told the German Press Agency dpa.
He said in a telephone conversation that he was stationed just half a kilometre away from Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound, where the rebels have been fighting government troops for hours.
In other areas of the capital, Gaddafi loyalists laid down their arms and surrendered to the rebels. The rebels now control 95 per cent of Tripoli, according to their military spokesman, Ahmed al-Bani.
US President Barack Obama said: "The momentum against the Gaddafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant."
Two of Gaddafi's sons, Saif al-Islam and al-Saadi, were arrested late Sunday. The International Criminal Court in The Hague and the rebels were to hold talks Monday on the transfer of Saif al-Islam, chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said.
Gaddafi, his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Sanussi, and Saif al-Islam have been charged with crimes against humanity in connection with the crackdown on protesters since the uprising started in February.
The European Union also sent a message to opposition fighters, calling for Gaddafi and his captured sons to stand trial in The Hague.
"They stand indicted by the (ICC) and we would hope that they would be delivered to the court so that they could stand trial in the correct way," said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Gaddafi's eldest son Mohamed surrendered to the rebels late Sunday, along with his mother - Gaddafi's first wife. They were being held under house arrest.
Mahmoud Jibril, a senior member of the Transitional National Council, urged the rebels to show "restraint" and act with "respect and compassion" when dealing with Gaddafi loyalists, in a speech on opposition television channel al-Ahrar.
Jibril was invited by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Paris for talks to be held on Wednesday.
Amid concerns about possible reprisals against Gaddafi loyalists, Ashton issued a statement on behalf of the EU urging the opposition "to fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law and to act with responsibility."
Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi expressed his full solidarity with the rebels' council at "this turning point in Libya's modern history" and announced talks with Arab foreign ministers to secure a peaceful transition as well as stability in Libya.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr announced that his country recognized the council as the legitimate government of Libya.
In Damascus, the Libyan envoy to Syria, Abdul Salam Daou, and the staff at the embassy announced they were defecting from Gaddafi's regime, a source at the embassy said.
Their defection followed the example of many other Libyan embassies that have taken down the green flag of the Gaddafi regime over the past six months, pledging support for the rebels.
"The priority is to ensure security in Tripoli," said British Prime Minister David Cameron. "Gaddafi must stop fighting, without conditions, and clearly show that he has given up any claim to control Libya."
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the regime was "clearly crumbling."
"Now is the time to create a new Libya - a state based on freedom, not fear; democracy, not dictatorship; the will of the many, not the whims of a few."