Saif al-Islam Gaddafi must have surgery to remove gangrenous flesh from a severed thumb and finger or face serious illness, his doctor said last night.
He has been nursing injuries to his right hand suffered during a Nato airstrike weeks ago as he fled rebels who overthrew his father's hated regime.
Andrei Murakhovsky, a Ukraine-born doctor working in the town where Saif al-Islam is being held, last night told how the wound was 'covered with gangrenous and necrotic tissue' and 'requires amputation'.
Fighters from Libya's Western Mountains captured Saif al-Islam in the southern desert on Saturday and flew him to their stronghold town of Zintan.
|Captive: Saif al-Islam looks at his injured fingers just after his capture, while in the custody of revolutionary fighters in Obari
||Saif al-Islam flashes a victory sign for reporters prior to his capture
The former playboy and student at the London School of Economics is being held there until a handover to the country's provisional government.
Dr Murakhovsky said Saif al-Islam's middle finger did not require surgery but the two other bandaged digits had been severed and were weeping pus.
'His index finger has been ripped off at the level of the middle phalange (finger bone), the bones are all shattered ... It's the same thing with the thumb of that hand,' he said.
When a picture of Saif al-Islam's bandaged hand was aired, many Libyans thought his captors had cut off his fingers in retribution for threats against anti-Gaddafi rebels which he made on TV while pointing and making other hand gestures.
Dr Murakhovsky said, however, that the injuries were consistent with 'some kind of explosion'.
According to Dr Murakhovsky, the surgical intervention required was relatively simple and could be performed in Zintan under local anaesthetic.
But the town's militiamen were worried someone would try to kill Saif al-Islam if they took him to hospital.
'I would have done it the day before yesterday. It's not so urgent. It's already been like that for a month. But it's preferable that it should be done soon,' Dr Murakhovsky said.
Abdurrahim El-Keib, the new Libyan prime minister, has said Saif al-Islam is receiving the best possible treatment, but for now he is not in the hands of the provisional central government.
Zintan's fighters have said they will hand him over to the provisional government once it is formed. The cabinet was sworn in on Thursday, with the defence minister's post going to the head of Zintan's military council.
Dr Murakhovsky said only a small part of Saif al-Islam's thumb and index finger needed to be removed.
While he did not need to be operated on urgently, he added, if there were no intervention there could be serious consequences.
If left untreated, the gangrenous infection could spread into the bloodstream and lead to osteomyolitis, which Dr Murakhovsky said was 'an infection of the bone marrow, which could have an impact on his general condition'.
The International Criminal Court has indicted Saif al-Islam for crimes against humanity and issued a warrant for his arrest.
Libya, however, says it will not hand him over to the Hague, and the ICC's prosecutor says Tripoli can try him if it wants to.
Saif al-Islam has not been charged in Libya, but ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said his Libyan counterpart has launched investigations into the same events as the ICC, in which protesters were killed during this year's revolution.
If Libya were to charge him with similar crimes as the ICC, Saif al-Islam would face the death penalty. The maximum sentence the ICC can pass is life in prison.
Libya is also investigating five counts of alleged corruption by Saif al-Islam, Mr Moreno-Ocampo said.
© Daily Mail, London