Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam released after five years
BENGHAZI – Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, has been freed by an armed group holding him in the western town of Zintan where he was taken after the 2011 revolt against his father, according to one of his lawyers and a statement from the brigade.
The lawyer and the brigade said he had been released under an amnesty law passed by a parliament based in eastern Libya. The lawyer, Khaled al-Zaidi, said Saif al-Islam was headed to another Libyan city, but he could not say where for security reasons.
Previous reports that Saif al-Islam had been released from Zintan turned out to be false and there have been conflicting reports about his status since his capture.
Saif al-Islam, 44, is the most prominent of the late long-time Libyan leader’s children, and was touted by some as a possible successor before the uprising six years ago in which Gaddafi was toppled and killed.
Zintan’s Abubaker Sadiq brigade, which was responsible for guarding Saif al-Islam, said it had decided to release him following requests from the ministry of justice of a government based in eastern Libya.
“We decided to release Saif al-Islam Muammar Gaddafi, who is free, and we confirm that he left Zintan on the date of his release on the 14th of Ramadan (Friday),” the brigade said.
A Tripoli court sentenced him to death in 2015 for war crimes, including killing protesters during the revolution.
Libya slid into turmoil after Gaddafi’s overthrow, with rival armed factions and governments competing for power. A U.N.-backed government now in Tripoli has struggled to assert its influence especially over powerful factions in the east.
Zintan, which grew powerful through its role in the 2011 uprising and has been at odds with authorities in Tripoli, had refused to hand Saif al-Islam over. He is also sought by the International Criminal Court, which says the trial in Libya did not meet international standards. -Reuters