U.S. says unable to confirm capture of Gaddafi son

WASHINGTON Sat Nov 19, 2011 1:10pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has not independently confirmed reports that Muammar Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, has been captured, a State Department official said on Saturday.

"We have seen the reports but cannot independently confirm them," the official said.

Saif al-Islam, 39, was poised to succeed his late father, Muammar Gaddafi, as leader of Libya until rebels toppled the government earlier this year. Gaddafi's British-educated son had vowed to die fighting in opposition to the revolution.

Reports from Libya say he was seized in the southern Libyan desert by fighters who vowed to hold him in their mountain town of Zintan until there was an administration to hand him over to.

"His capture and trial would be another step away from a 40-year dark chapter in Libyan history and help move the Libyan people toward the peaceful and democratic future they deserve," the U.S. official said.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Saif al-Islam on charges of crimes against humanity.

"The international community has been very clear that he should be held accountable for his actions," the official said, adding that Libyan authorities have been urged to treat all prisoners in custody in line with international standards.

The United States has recommended that Libyan authorities send prisoners to facilities under the control of the governing National Transitional Council (NTC).

"We also encourage the TNC to continue its cooperation with the ICC on the future trial of Saif al-Islam," the U.S. official said.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Jasmin Melvin; Editing by Paul Simao)

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