Mys­tery sur­rounds Qaddafi’s son amid pri­son dis­charge ru­mors

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL -

Nearly a year af­ter a Libyan mili­tia an­nounced it had set free the son and heir ap­par­ent of slain for­mer ruler Muam­mar Qaddafi, the fate of Seif Al-Is­lam re­mains a mys­tery.

His re­ported re­lease from de­ten­tion by the Abu Bakr Al-Sadiq Brigade which once con­trolled the town of Zintan in Western Libya has never been con­firmed and has fu­eled wild ru­mors.

While some in­sist he is still some­where in Zintan, oth­ers claim Seif is dead.

One thing is cer­tain, how­ever: He has not been seen or heard of since June 2014 when he ap­peared via video from Zintan dur­ing his trial by a Tripoli court.

And now Seif is back in the news, af­ter for­mer French Pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy was charged in Paris with fi­nanc­ing his 2007 elec­tion cam­paign with money from Qaddafi.

In a 2011 in­ter­view with the Eu­ronews tele­vi­sion net­work, Seif said Sarkozy must “give back the money he took from Libya to fi­nance his elec­toral cam­paign.”

Seif Al-Is­lam was cap­tured by the Zintan-based mili­tia in Novem­ber 2011, days af­ter Qaddafi was killed in a NATO-backed up­ris­ing against his decades-old rule.

The In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) is in a le­gal tug-ofwar with Libyan au­thor­i­ties to trans­fer Seif to The Hague, where he is wanted for crimes against hu­man­ity in­clud­ing mur­der.

But in July 2015, a Tripoli court sen­tenced the now 45-yearold to death in ab­sen­tia along with eight other Al-Qaddafi-era fig­ures.

Ac­cord­ing to sev­eral Libyan sources, and diplo­mats, Seif has not left Zintan, a largely tribal town 170 km south­west of Tripoli and one of the cra­dles of the 2011 up­ris­ing.

But is he a pris­oner? No one in Zintan, a town of 40,000 in­hab­i­tants, is will­ing to give a clear an­swer.

“Yes. He is still a pris­oner,” Mokhtar Al-Akhdar, a mem­ber of Zintan’s mil­i­tary coun­cil which groups the town’s key mili­tias, said cat­e­gor­i­cally when asked about Seif.

“Even if he is not a pris­oner, he is wanted by the ICC ... and he has nowhere to go,” he quickly added, throw­ing more doubt on Seif’s fate.

Chaa­ban Al-Marhani, one of the town’s tribal lead­ers, also pro­vided a con­fus­ing ac­count of Seif’s where­abouts.

“He is here (in Zintan) and his is a pris­oner but his fate in not in the hands of Zintan.”

A mem­ber of the se­cu­rity ser­vices, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, added to the con­fu­sion. “In any case Seif Al-Is­lam was never re­ally a pris­oner in the full mean­ing of the word. Ever since his ar­rest he has been un­der home ar­rest ... not in a pri­son,” he said.

The Abu Bakr Al-Sadiq Brigade which cap­tured him more than six years ago had re­peat­edly re­fused to hand Seif over to au­thor­i­ties in Tripoli or the ICC.

The group said it re­leased him in June 2017 as part of a gen­eral amnesty de­creed by a Par­lia­ment based in east­ern Libya but le­gal experts said Seif was not in­cluded in the amnesty.

A Libyan court has sen­tenced Seif Al-Is­lam to death for hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions. (AFP)

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