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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gaddafi’s daughter gives birth in Algeria


ALGIERS — Muammar Gaddafi's daughter Aisha gave birth to a girl on Tuesday, a source close to Algeria's health ministry said, a day after Algiers granted her and other Gaddafi family members safe haven.

Algeria announced on Monday that Gaddafi's wife, two of his sons and his daughter had crossed into its territory. Libya's ruling interim council demanded they be handed back to face trial.

Gaddafi's only biological daughter, Aisha ran a charitable foundation and in 2004 joined a team of lawyers defending former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

There had not been any public announcement that Aisha, a lawyer in her mid-30s, was pregnant.

She largely stayed out of Libyan politics, but since the start of a revolt against her father's rule in February she appeared at pro-Gaddafi rallies and gave interviews in which she accused NATO of killing Libyan children.

"Gaddafi's daughter gave birth to a girl today, this is all I can say," the source close to the health ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

Algeria's ambassador to the United Nations Mourad Benmehidi told the BBC that in the desert regions there was a "holy rule of hospitality" and his country had accepted the family on humanitarian grounds.

However, a local newspaper reported that Algeria would hand over Muammar Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if he entered the North African country.

Quoting Algerian sources, the Echorouk newspaper said on its website that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had told government ministers at a cabinet meeting on Monday Algeria would respect international law on all matters related to the Libyan conflict.

"Should Gaddafi try to enter Algerian soil amid talk that the rebels are tightening their grip on the border with Tunisia, and Egyptian (border) restrictions, Algeria would arrest him and hand him over to the International Criminal Court in compliance with international agreements," the newspaper said.

It said the decision was not a reaction to the toppling of the Gaddafi regime but was in accordance with the ICC's arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and his intelligence chief over accusations they committed crimes against humanity.

No one was immediately available from the government for comment. In a separate report, Echorouk said Gaddafi's family members who had crossed into Algeria were in the southeastern Illizi province, which borders Libya, and would not be allowed to go to the capital Algiers.

Gaddafi's location remains unknown a week after Tripoli fell to his enemies.

Algeria's El Watan newspaper said the country was closing the southern part of its border with Libya. Quoting diplomatic sources, El Watan said an instruction had gone out to security services to close the southern part of the border with Libya because of the "precarious situation" there.

Algeria's border with Libya is hundreds of kilometers long and stretches through expanses of empty desert.

Algerian officials say they are concerned that Islamist militants have infiltrated Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) and that al Qaeda's North African wing will exploit the chaos in Libya to acquire weapons and explosives.

The NTC has denied those charges and in turn accuses Algeria of siding with Gaddafi during Libya's civil war, something the Algerian authorities deny.


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