Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son and heir apparent Saif al Islam is free and not being detained by rebel forces, as had been claimed.
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Saif turned up at Tripoli’s Rixos hotel, where journalists are staying under the watch of government minders, as the battle for control of the city continued.
The International Criminal Court, which has issued arrest warrants for the 39-year-old, had said Saif had been captured by Libya’s opposition fighters.
But he told reporters the capital was still under the control of the regime, saying his father was safe and well and remained in the city.
He greeted supporters and took journalists on a tour of parts of the city still under the regime’s control, saying: “The situation in Libya is excellent, thank God.
“We are here. This is our country. This is our people, and we live here, and we die here.
“And we are going to win, because the people are with us. That’s why were are going to win. Look at them – look at them, in the streets, everywhere.”
When asked about the International Criminal Court’s claim that he was arrested by rebels, he said the ICC “can go to hell”, adding: “We are going to break the backbone of the rebels.”
He also claimed rebel fighters had been lured to the capital, in a “trap” set by forces loyal to Col Gaddafi, the ruler of 42 years, and said Nato and the West distorted Libyan communications.
There was no explanation from either Saif al Islam or the rebel leadership council in the city of Benghazi as to why his arrest had been reported.
News organisation Al Jazeera has said unnamed sources believe Col Gaddafi’s son Khamis and the dictator’s intelligence chief Abdallah Senussi have been killed.
And the ICC has said Saif al Islam’s older brother Mohammed has been detained – although reports suggest he had escaped from rebels.
It comes as world leaders continued to urge Col Gaddafi, 69, to accept defeat and prevent more bloodshed.
Rebels had entered Tripoli as an uprising swept the city and opposition forces appeared to take control of most of the capital.
Gaddafi tanks and snipers appeared to hold only small areas, mainly around the heavily fortified Bab al Aziziyah compound in central Tripoli.
Civilians, who had flocked into the streets on Sunday to cheer the apparent end of Col Gaddafi’s rule, stayed indoors amid machine gun fire and explosions.
In a sign Gaddafi allies remain determined to fight, Nato said government forces fired three Scud-type missiles from the area of Sirte towards the rebel-held city of Misratah.
The South African national broadcaster SABC has reported that Angola has offered asylum to Col Gaddafi.