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Gaddafi son Saif al-Islam freed after death sentence quashed

Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam has been released from custody after his death sentence was quashed, his British lawyer has confirmed.

Karim Khan QC said he was now petitioning the international criminal court to drop its charges against Saif, which would allow him to travel abroad without facing arrest.

Saif, 44, the most prominent of Gaddafi's eight children, was sentenced to death by a Tripoli court last July in a mass trial of former regime officials.

Khan said the sentence had been quashed by Libya's new UN-backed government this year, and Saif was now at an undisclosed location after being released from house arrest in the mountain town of Zintan where he had been held for five years.

"He's been released from Zintan detention. The release, I'm told, was on 12 April - there was an order from the central government," said Khan. "He's in Libya, he's in good health, he's safe and he's well."

The release marks a remarkable turnaround for a figure pilloried by many in Libya for having supported his father during an eight-month civil war in 2011. After his father was killed in August that year, Saif was captured in the Sahara desert trying to flee to Niger.

During the dictatorship, Saif was the dictator's heir apparent. He lived in a 10m mansion in London's Hampstead Garden Suburb and earned a PhD from the London School of Economics.

He enjoyed the high life and was well-connected in British society, with contacts including the billionaire hedge fund investor Nat Rothschild, the Labour peer Peter Mandelson and the architect Norman Foster.

When revolution broke out in Libya in February 2011, Saif returned there to support his father, giving television broadcasts castigating the rebels.

He was charged with crimes against humanity by the ICC in The Hague, but when court officers visited him in Zintan in 2012 they were detained for six weeks by town authorities.

Saif's Tripoli trial began in 2014 and was fraught because Zintan refused to release him. He addressed court officials by video link. Human rights groups and the UN said there was a lack of due process in the trial. The death sentence was also handed down to Gaddafi's former spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi, who remains in prison.

Libya has yet to publish its reasoning for the amnesty. Khan said the ICC must now drop its case because of rules prohibiting a suspect from being tried twice for the same crimes.

"There was a trial, there was a conviction, he was sentenced to death. After that there was an amnesty," he said. "I'm going to be filing an application that the case is inadmissible at the ICC under article 20 of the statute concerning double jeopardy."

Khan said Saif had no plans to return to Britain. "He wants to stay in Libya," he said.

[Source: By Chris Stephen, The Guardian, London, 07Jul16]

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small logoThis document has been published on 08Jul16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.