Gaddafi's son Saif 'freed' by Libyan militia

Gaddafi's second son is released in western Libya, after being in captivity for six years.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's captors say they released him last Friday, after holding him in Zintan for six years.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's captors say they released him last Friday, after holding him in Zintan for six years.

BENGHAZI (Libya) • 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 militia at Zintan.

The lawyer and the Abubaker Sadiq Brigade said he had been released under an amnesty law passed by a parliament based in eastern Libya. The lawyer, Mr 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 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.

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The Abubaker Sadiq Brigade, which was responsible for guarding Saif al-Islam, said it had decided to release him following requests from the justice ministry 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 (last Friday)," said the brigade.

A Tripoli court sentenced Saif al-Islam to death in 2015 for war crimes, including the killing of protesters during the revolution.

Libya slid into turmoil after Gaddafi's overthrow, with rival armed factions and governments competing for power.

A United Nations-backed government in Tripoli has struggled to assert its influence, especially over powerful factions based in the east.

Zintan, which grew powerful through its key role in the 2011 uprising, has been at odds with the authorities in Tripoli. It originally refused to hand Saif al-Islam over.

He is also sought by the International Criminal Court, which says that the trial in Libya did not meet international standards.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2017, with the headline 'Gaddafi's son Saif 'freed' by Libyan militia'. Print Edition | Subscribe