Moamar Gaddafi’s son Saadi released from prison 10 years after Libyan dictator’s downfall

The son of former Libyan dictator Moamar Gaddafi has been released from prison, one decade on from the uprising that toppled his father’s regime.

Saadi Gaddafi had been in detention in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, since 2014 following his extradition from neighbouring Niger.

Local media reported the younger Gaddafi was released after being acquitted of charges dating back to the uprising against his father’s rule.

At the time of the 2011 revolt, which was part of the broader Arab Spring movement, Saadi Gaddafi headed a special forces brigade that was involved in the crackdown on protesters and rebels.

Prime Minister-designate Abdul Hamid Dbeibah said in a Twitter post early on Monday that Saadi Gaddafi had been released in compliance with a previous court order.

Mohamed Hamouda, a spokesman for Libya’s transitional government, said Saadi Gaddafi walked free from Tripoli’s al-Hadaba prison, where many former regime officials are being held pending trial, mostly in connection with the crackdown on the 2011 uprising that toppled the longtime ruler and led to his killing.

Mr Hamouda did not elaborate on the circumstances of the release.

Saadi Gaddafi was smuggled across the desert to Niger in 2011 just as his father’s regime was crumbling.

But he was extradited in March 2014 after he, as well as colleagues who accompanied him, “failed to respect the conditions of his stay in Niger”, the West African nation’s government said at the time.

Following his release, he travelled to Turkey, according to the al-Marsad news website.

During his father’s rule, Saadi Gaddafi was known for his lavish lifestyle and he treated Libya’s soccer league as his personal fiefdom.

He played for several Libyan teams and for an Italian team until he failed a drug test. At various times, he headed Libya’s soccer federation and its national team.

In one case, security forces opened fire on fans at a 1996 match Saadi Gaddafi attended, killing a number of people in murky circumstances.

He is also suspected in the 2005 killing of Bashir al-Riyani, a popular Libyan soccer player who was a vocal critic of the late ruler’s regime.

Following Saadi Gaddafi’s  extradition, prosecutors in Libya said he faced charges in connection to abductions and rapes during the 2011 uprising, misuse of his post and the killing of al-Riyani.

The elder Gaddafi ruled Libya with an eccentric brutality for nearly 42 years before he was ousted by an uprising in August 2011.

He was captured and killed two months later.

The oil-rich country plunged into chaos after the uprising.

It has been ruled for most of the past decade by rival governments based in Libya’s west and the east, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

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