Saif Al-Islam’s release flatly denied by Zintan

By Libya Herald reporters.

Saif Al-Islam after his 2011 capture by Zintani forces (File photo)

Saif Al-Islam just after his 2011 capture by Zintani forces (File photo)

Tripoli, 7 July 2016:

Zintani sources are flatly denying that Saif Al-Islam has been released from detention in the town, as claimed by a British lawyer who has represented Qaddafi’s son and heir apparent.

Saif was captured in 2011 as he tried to flee to Niger disguised as a Tuareg tribesman. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and has been sentenced to death by a Tripoli court which tried him in absentia. The Zintanis have always refused to hand him over, either to Tripoli or the ICC.

British lawyer Karim Khan said in a Wednesday interview with France24 that Saif had been released on 12 April. He added that he was now lodging a petition with the ICC  to have the charges against Saif dropped.

Shortly after that interview, a document surfaced purporting to be a pardon for Saif and an order for his release. The single page announcement was over a barely legible signature which however some claim actually reads “Hahahaha”.

Tonight, military sources in Zintan denied to Reuters that Saif had been freed. He was still in detention in the town.

In April there was indeed a rumour of Saif’s release. There was no formal denial at the time but sources in the town said the speculation was being stirred up by Misratans or the Muslim Brotherhood in an effort to discredit Zintan. Similar speculation that Saif had been freed circulated last autumn.

Apart from his brief appearance via video-link in the Hadba courtroom in Tripoli at the start of his trial along with other leading regime figures, Saif has only been seen once in the last five years. The first was a strange one-minute TV interview  with Al-Assema TV in November 2013 in which he gave curt answers to three questions agreed in advance with his lawyers and jailers.

All the many subsequent media attempts to meet and interview Saif have been rebuffed by the Zintan authorities.

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