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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Second son of Gaddafi Saif freed from jail in Libya

The second son of former Libyan leader Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, is reported to have been freed under an amnesty. Saif is believed to have been the son Gaddafi preferred as his successor.

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Saif has been held by a militia group in the town of Zintan for the last six years. The militia one of the Zintan brigades are allied with the eastern commander of the Libyan National Army(LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The group just announced he had been released. However, previous reports of his release have turned out to be incorrect. In 2015 a Tripoli court sentenced Saif to death in absentia as the Zintan group refused to surrender him. Saif is wanted by the International Criminal Court(ICC) and is charged with crimes against humanity during his father's attempts to put down the rebellion against him in 2011..
Saif, now 44, was captured back in November 2011 after he had been three months on the run. Saif played a key role in building relations with the west after 2000 and according to the BBC was considered to be a reformist within his father's regime. However, during the uprising in 2011 he was accused of murdering protesters and inciting violence. No one from the UN-supported Government of National Accord(GNA) has confirmed that Saif was released.
The Libya Herald reports that Zintan is in an uproar after the reported release. Al-Ajmaj al-Aitiri who commands the Zintan Abubakr Al-Siddiq brigade that had been holding Saif, reported that he had been released and had left town. The brigade had captured Saif as he fled through the desert six years ago A statement from the brigade said that it was responding to an amnesty for political prisoners from the eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR) government. The statement added that human rights organizations and the courts should oversee the release of political prisoners. Reports about Saif have in the past turned out to be false. The Herald reports: "Last month, the Zintan military council dismissed as completely false claims by the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fateh Bensouda that Saif had survived an assassination attempt and that he had been handed over to it by Al-Atiri’s brigade."
Saif was visited at the end of last month by the under-secretary for justice from the HoR government, Eisa Alsaghuit who insisted then that he was already a free man. He also said that the view of the eastern HoR government was that Saif was free to go where he wanted. There are numerous unconfirmed reports of where he might have gone including Algeria, Beida in the east or to the south.
While some Zintanis appear angry at Saif's release in the southern city of Sebha there was celebratory gunfire. A recent tweet confirms the Sebha reaction: "Celebratory gunfire can be heard throughout Sebha news that Seif Al Islam AlGafdafi is free.". Another tweet is from the Zintan Elder's Council: "Zintan Elders Council: We refused to use Saif al-Islam #Gaddfi as a political pawn. #Libya" A final tweet suggests that Gaddafi went to Bani Walid in Libya: "Jamahiriya News Retweeted Jamahiriya News The article states that Saif left Zintan to live in Bani Walid. He is now free." We will soon see how much of this is confirmed.


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