SHOCK: Gadhafi’s ‘detained’ son makes defiant appearance at Tripoli hotel


The 42-year rule of Moammar Gadhafi appeared on the verge of collapse Monday, with rebel supporters making it to the same Tripoli square where regime loyalists had congregated for month.

But in a possible indication that the fight is not over, celebrations in Tripoli’s Green Square gave way to tension Monday  after rebels told CNN that they’d heard Gadhafi army forces were heading their way. CNN could not confirm any movement of Gadhafi forces.

Here are some of the latest developments of the fighting in Tripoli, the latest installment of battles in a months-long uprising in Libya.

[Updated at 8:22 p.m. ET, 2:22 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] More information about tonight’s appearance in Tripoli of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, who rebels claimed was captured on Sunday:

Video showed Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and a top official in his regime, shaking hands and greeting supporters overnight while leaning outside of a car in his armored convoy on the streets of Tripoli. He told reporters that supporters of his father Moammar Gadhafi’s government “have broken the spines of those rats and those gangsters” – referring to rebel fighters who entered the capital over the weekend.

He said that on Tuesday the government’s forces “will reassure the people that things are fine in Tripoli.”

Asked about his being wanted by the International Criminal Court – which has issued a warrant for his arrest for his alleged participation in “crimes against humanity” – Saif al-Islam Gadhafi said, “To hell with the ICC.”

Rebels had claimed that Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and two of his brothers were captured on Sunday and Monday. But Saif is free, and one of the other two, Mohammed Gadhafi, was reported to have escaped Monday, according to the Libyan ambassador to the United States.

[Updated at 8:06 p.m. ET, 2:06 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] More from Saif al-Islam Gadhafi’s appearance outside Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel, more than a day after rebels reported they captured him: Saif said that word about his supposed detention was a rebel trick, CNN’s Matthew Chance reports.

Chance, who is with about 35 other journalists at the hotel, said an armored Land Cruiser pulled up to the hotel, and people were saying that Saif was inside. “It was just about to drive off, so I went up to it and I knocked on the window and said, ‘Dr. Saif, Dr. Saif, can you open the door? We want to … make sure it’s you,” Chance said.

“He opened the door, turned the lights on inside the back of this armored land cruiser, and it was indeed him. He was bearded, he looked quite thin. … He told me that his father, Col. Gadhafi, remained in Tripoli. He said the whole family are in Tripoli.”

Chance has posted this account of his encounter with Saif on Twitter: “Saif Gadhafi told me that he had been travelling around Tripoli in an armored convoy the whole time.”

Earlier, Libya’s ambassador to the United States told CNN that another of Gadhafi’s sons, Mohammad Gadhafi, had escaped from rebel custody. The circumstances of the escape were unclear, said Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali, an NTC representative.

Rebels had said Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and Mohammad Gadhafi were among three of Moammar Gadhafi’s sons that they had captured since Sunday.

[Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET, 1:40 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] Moammar Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi who reportedly was captured by rebel forces on Sunday made an appearance at Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel early Tuesday, CNN’s Matthew Chance reports.

Saif appeared outside the hotel – one of the remaining hold-outs for Gadhafi loyalists – in a convoy of armored Land Cruisers. Chance said he spoke to Saif briefly and took a photo of him.

Saif said his father and the rest of the family were in Tripoli, and that the rebels had been “lured into a trap.”

There was no immediate explanation from the National Transitional Council, the rebel leadership that had announced he was in custody on Sunday.

Earlier, Libya’s ambassador to the United States told CNN that another of Gadhafi’s sons, Mohammad Gadhafi, had escaped from rebel custody. The circumstances of the escape were unclear, said Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali, an NTC representative.

[Updated at 6:35 p.m. ET, 12:35 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] CNN’s Matthew Chance reports says he and the roughly 35 other journalists in Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel – where they are essentially trapped, with Gadhafi loyalists refusing to let them leave as fighting rages outside – are running out of ways to keep in contact with people elsewhere, including their own employers.

The hotel lost power hours ago, and the journalists – who have corralled themselves in the dark in a lobby on one of the upper floors – are running out of battery power for their phones and other equipment. Chance, whose own phones are dead, talked to CNN with a satellite phone lent by a Chinese television crew.

Gunfire could still be heard outside the hotel, which is abandoned besides the journalists and gunmen loyal to Gadhafi. Fighting also appeared to happening around Gadhafi’s compound near the hotel, Chance said.

The journalists have found some canned food and bottled water in the hotel’s storerooms and kitchen. “Hopefully we can … negotiate some kind of exit from this hotel, because really we don’t feel we’re getting much in terms of an overall picture of what’s happening in Tripoli.”

He said they’re trying to stay away from the gunmen in the hotel, some of whom were cocking their guns and telling the reporters that they’re NATO spies.

[Updated at 6:21 p.m. ET, 12:21 a.m. Tuesday in Libya] Gadhafi’s forces fired at least three missiles at the rebel-held city of Misrata, east of Tripoli, on Monday evening, the NATO alliance reported. NATO said it had no reports of damage or injuries, but called the launches a “direct threat to innocent people.”

“Although the surface-to-surface missiles in Gadhafi’s arsenal are highly inaccurate, and are not designed to hit a specific target, they are a weapon of terror,” NATO said. “Their use against an urban or industrial area is utterly irresponsible.”

[Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET, 11:50 p.m. in Libya] Mohammed Gadhafi – one of the three sons of the longtime Libyan leader who had been captured by rebel forces – has escaped, Libyan Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali told CNN.

The ambassador told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that after rebels found Mohammad Gadhafi at his home, he was allowed to stay there at his request. Later, Mohammad Gadhafi was “hijacked” by a different group, “maybe Gadhafi’s forces,” the ambassador said.

“We don’t know the story how he was taken out from his house,” he said.

Source: CNN

Did you already share this? No? Share it now: