11 Jun 2017

Gaddafi's son freed in Libya

9:10 pm on 11 June 2017

The second son of the former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was his father's preferred successor, is reported to have been released from prison.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

This file photo taken in 2011 shows Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Photo: AFP

A militia group controlling a town in western Libya says it has freed Saif al-Islam Gaddafi under an amnesty.

He had been held in the town of Zintan for the past six years.

The Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Battalion said he had been released on Friday but he has not been shown in public.

A source has told the BBC he is in the Tobruk area of eastern Libya.

His lawyer, Khaled al-Zaidi, also said he had been released but would not say which city Saif al-Islam had travelled to for security reasons.

The Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Battalion said it was acting on a request from the "interim government".

That government - based in the east of the country - had already offered amnesty to Saif al-Islam.

However, he has been sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Tripoli, the west of the country, where control is in the hands of the rival, UN-backed Government of National Accord.

Previous reports of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's release proved to be false.

He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity during his father's unsuccessful attempts to put down the rebellion.

If confirmed, the release of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi would add another unpredictable element to Libya's unstable mix.

He was detained in the desert in November 2011 trying to flee to Niger, and later appeared missing several fingers.

The former playboy often appeared in the West as the public face of the Gaddafi regime and was his father's heir-apparent.

While reviled by many - at home and abroad - he retains some support in Libya and could try to re-enter the political fray.


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs