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Libya frees Saadi Gaddafi, son of ex-ruler Muammar Gaddafi

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Saadi Gaddafi, the son of slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, sits dressed in prison blues waiting before trial in a courthouse in the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 13, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The Libyan transitional government has released Saadi Gaddafi, a son of the former ruler Muammar Gaddafi, after seven years of imprisonment, authorities said.

The 47-year-old immediately departed on a plane to Istanbul after being released, an official source told Reuters on Sunday.

His release resulted from negotiations that included senior tribal figures, Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh, and former interior minister Fathi Bashagha, sources said.

Saadi fled for Niger during the NATO-backed uprising, but was extradited in March 2014 after he “failed to respect the conditions of his stay in Niger,” the Libyan government said at the time. His father, Muammar Gaddafi, was ousted and killed during that uprising.

Saadi was accused of crimes committed against protesters in 2011 and of the 2005 killing of Libyan football coach Bashir al-Rayani.

In April 2018, he was acquitted of murder in connection with al-Rayani’s death.

Libya fell into chaos after the 2011 uprising. For most of the past decade, the oil-rich country has been ruled by rival governments in the west and east, each of which has the support of armed groups and different foreign governments.

A 2020 ceasefire ended factional fighting and paved the way for peace negotiations and the formation of a transitional government in March this year, ahead of elections scheduled for December.

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