Libyan authorities release Muammar Gaddafi’s son after more than 7 years in custody

By The Associated Press

Cairo: Libyan authorities on Sunday released one of Muammar Gaddafi’s sons, the country’s interim leader said after more than seven years under house arrest in the Tripoli capital following extradition from neighboring Niger.

Designated Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dabiba said in a tweet early Monday that al-Saadi Gaddafi had been released in compliance with a previous court order.

Mohamed Hammouda, a spokesman for the transitional government, said the son had been freed from Tripoli’s al-Hadaba prison, where several Gaddafi regime officials are facing trial, mostly in relation to crackdown on the 2011 uprising that killed the longtime ruler. and led to his assassination. Hammouda did not elaborate on the circumstances of the son’s release.

Local media reported that al-Saadi Gaddafi was released after being acquitted of charges of rebellion against his father’s regime. After his release, he traveled to Turkey, according to the Al-Mursad news website.

In a tweet announcing the release, Dabiba said, “We cannot move forward without achieving reconciliation.” His government has been tasked with leading the war-torn country to an election before the end of this year.

At the time of the 2011 uprising, al-Saadi Gaddafi led a special forces brigade that was involved in crackdowns on demonstrators and rebels.

He was taken across the desert to Niger in 2011, when his father’s rule was crumbling. The West African nation’s government said at the time that he, as well as his accompanying aides, had been extradited in March 2014 after “failing to respect the conditions of his stay in Niger”.

The dictator had eight children, most of whom played important roles in his rule. At the same time his son Muatasim was killed and Gaddafi was captured and executed. Two other sons, Seif al-Arab and Khamis, were killed in the first rebellion.

Seif al-Islam, who was once the clear heir to his father, has been in Libya since his release from detention in 2017. Another son, Hannibal, is reportedly detained in Lebanon.

The rest of the children are still largely seeking asylum in neighboring Algeria, along with Gaddafi’s wife and al-Sadi’s mother, Safia. The mother, a sister and two brothers were granted asylum in Oman in 2012 and had moved there from Algeria.

During his father’s rule, al-Saadi Gaddafi was known for his lavish lifestyle and considered the Libyan Football League to be his personal fiefdom. He played for several Libyan teams – and one for the Italian team until he failed a drug test. Several times, he led the Libyan football federation and its national team.

In one case, security forces opened fire on fans at a 1996 match involving al-Saadi, killing several people under suspicious circumstances. He is also suspected in the 2005 assassination of Bashir al-Riyani, a popular Libyan football player who was a vocal critic of Gaddafi’s regime.

Following her extradition, prosecutors in Libya said she faced charges of kidnapping and rape, abuse of her position and the murder of al-Riyani during the 2011 uprising.

The elder Gaddafi ruled Libya with a cynical brutality for nearly 42 years before being ousted by an insurgency in August 2011. Two months later he was captured and executed.

The oil-rich country plunged into chaos after an insurgency and over the past decade has been ruled by rival governments based in the west and east of Libya, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

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