TRIPOLI // Libyan authorities said on Monday that Muammar Qaddafi’s son Saif Al Islam was still wanted by a Tripoli court for a 2015 conviction, after a local militia said it had freed him.
Saif, the second son and heir apparent of the late deposed Libyan dictator, was said to have been released on Friday by a militia group that controls the town of Zintan in western Libya.
The group, which had held Saif for more than five years, said he had been set free under an amnesty law put into effect by the country’s elected parliament – based in eastern Libya – during Ramadan.
But the prosecutor general’s office in Tripoli, where a rival UN-backed administration is based, said the amnesty could not apply to Saif because of the severity of his crimes.
“Having been sentenced in absentia on July 28, 2015 ... [Saif] is required to appear before the court,” said Tripoli prosecutor general Ibrahim Massud Ali.
There was no independent confirmation of Saif’s release, which could spark further instability in a country already wracked by divisions and violence.
The prosecutor did not confirm that Saif had been set free and gave no indication of his potential whereabouts.
Saif had been held in Zintan since being detained in November 2011, just days after his father was killed in a Nato-backed uprising against his decades-long rule.
The Zintan militia, which opposes Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), had refused to hand him over to authorities despite several legal cases.
In 2015, a court in Tripoli convicted Saif in connection with attempts to put down the revolt and sentenced him in absentia to death.
He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity.
His reported release came as Libya continues to be rocked by infighting, with authorities in the east refusing to recognise the GNA.
Human Rights Watch called on Libyan authorities to track Saif down.
“Libyan authorities, who remain obligated to surrender him to the court [ICC], should urgently confirm whether he was released and disclose his current whereabouts,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of the rights organisation.
* Agence France-Presse