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Libya frees al-Saadi Gadhafi, son of Moammar, from prison

September 6, 2021

Saadi Gadhafi, once a professional footballer, was cleared of killing a football coach in 2018 and reports say he has flown to Turkey. Libya is looking to hold elections in December.

Al-Saadi Gadhafi,son of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, watches a military exercise by the elite military unit commanded by his brother, Khamis, in Zlitan, Libya
Al-Saadi Gadhafi is free from prison after more than seven years behind bars, Libyan authorities saidImage: AP

A Libyan prison has freed al-Saadi Gadhafi, son of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi who was toppled in 2011, the country's justice ministry said Sunday.

A former professional footballer in Italy, al-Saadi had been held in a Tripoli prison for more than seven years over crimes committed against protesters and for the 2005 killing of Libyan football coach Bashir al-Rayani.

Known as a playboy during his father's 42 years in power, al-Saadi was acquitted on appeal over the murder of Rayani in 2018, and press reports on Sunday said he had already flown to Turkey.

One of eight children

Al-Saadi Gadhafi was one of eight children of former Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi.

In 2011, an uprising in the country saw Gadhafi arrested and killed along with three of his sons. Members of his family fled the country to other parts of the Arab world including Algeria and Lebanon.

Al-Saadi Gadhafi poses beside the AC Perugia soccer club he signed for in 2003
Al-Saadi Gadhafi played soccer for AC Perugia before failing a drugs testImage: picture alliance/dpa

Al-Saadi Gadhafi sought refuge in Niger until March 2014 when the country extradited him to stand trial for the 2005 killing of soccer coach Bashir al-Rayani.

The court of appeal cleared him of wrongdoing in April 2018 although he has been kept in a Tripoli prison since then accused of crimes against protesters.

Warring factions

After the death of Moammar Gadhafi the country fell into disarray.

Warring factions vied for power in the oil-rich country until a 2020 ceasefire paved the way for peace talks between the different groups in the east and west of the country.

And in a tweet on Sunday regarding al-Saadi's release, Prime Minister-designate Abdul Hamid Dbeibah said: "We cannot move forward without achieving reconciliation or establishing a state without achieving justice, enforcing the law, respecting the principle of separation of powers and following judicial procedures and rulings."

He added: "On this basis, the citizen "Al-Saadi Gaddafi" was released today, in implementation of the release issued against him by the Public Prosecution."

Dbeibah leads a transitional government formed in March that will now oversee national elections set for December.

jc/jsi (AFP, AP)