Saif al-Islam returned to the centre of Tripoli last night, despite earlier reports that he had been detained by the rebels, and confirmed his father Colonel Gaddafi’s was “safe” in the capital.

Saif, who studied at the London School of Economics and was once slated as Gadaffi’s successor as Libyan leader, was seen arriving at a hotel used by reporters and TV crews.

When a reporter asked him if his father was safe and in Tripoli, he replied: “Of course,”

“We have broken the backbone of the rebels. It was a trap. We gave them a hard time, so we are winning,” he added.

Saif’s appearance came as a surprise after the International Criminal Court claimed he had been arrested on Sunday.

Rebel forces claim to control 85 per cent of Tripoli but the city has been the scene of intense fighting with around 1300 people killed.

Saif’s reappearance has raised questions about some of the rebels’ claims which had led many to believe that Gadaffi’s 41 year rule of Libya was about to end.

It also points to the possibility that the bloody conflict will be dragged out for months to come.


Sky's Alex Crawford scoops Tripoli news story

Rebels celebrate in Green Square