Oman, a British ally in the Gulf has offered refuge to close relatives of Muammar Gaddafi, including his wife and a hated playboy son, officials from Tripoli and Muscat revealed on Monday.
Muammar Gaddafi's family, clockwise from top left: wife Safia, his sons Hannibal and Mohammad and his daughter
Aisha Safia Gaddafi, the dictator's widow and three of his children left a hideaway in Algeria last October, more than a year after they crossed the border from Libya.
Mohammad Abdulaziz, Libya's foreign minister, said that the group had accepted political asylum from Oman and conceded it was difficult to foresee their return to Libya, where several face criminal charges.
Sultan Qaboos, Oman's ruler, is a Sandhurst-educated Anglophile who last week hosted a three-day visit by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and he is close to several members of the Government.
The Gaddafi group includes the former leader's daughter Aisha, a lawyer who made headlines around the world with her campaigns on behalf of Saddam Hussein.
The most notorious member of the group is Gaddafi's son Hannibal. He is wanted for alleged human rights abuses by the new authorities in Tripoli.
Another son, Mohammad, is the son of the dictator's first wife, but despite being the head of the Libyan Olympic committee, he is not associated with the worst excesses of the regime.
Libyan officials have not sought all members of the group, but have expressed concern that the family could be living off funds looted by the family during Gaddafi's forty years in power.
An Oman official confirmed the state had accepted those members of the Gaddafi family who escaped Libya before the former leader was killed in his hometown, Sirte, in October 2011.
"Gaddafi's wife, two sons and a daughter, as well as their children have been in Oman since October last year," an Omani government official said.
"We have already accepted their request for asylum provided they don't engage in political activities."
Newspaper reports said the Sultanate did not want the decision to be seen as a political move.
"This step comes in the context of a purely humanitarian concern, the Sultanate does not want to show off or brag about it to the press and the media, especially since this step is consistent with the philosophy of the Sultanate, and its foreign policy," a foreign ministry official said.
Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi's heir was captured by rebels more than a year ago and faces trial for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.
Another of Gaddafi's sons, Saadi, fled to Niger at the end of the revolt in which his father was overthrown and killed. Three other sons died in the regime's rearguard battle against the rebel uprising.