FILE PHOTO: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, attends a hearing behind bars in a courtroom in Zintan May 25, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo
October 17, 2017
By Aidan Lewis
TUNIS (Reuters) – Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the most prominent son of the former Libyan leader, is in good health and is following the political situation in Libya from his base inside the country, a Gaddafi family lawyer said on Tuesday.
Khaled al-Zaidi said he was in personal contact with Saif, but refused to say where in Libya Saif was, or whether he had ever left Zintan, the western town where he was detained after the 2011 revolt in which his father was toppled and killed.
“He’s working on politics from his base in Libya, with the tribes, with the cities, with the decision makers,” Zaidi told reporters in Tunis.
“He’s in a good health … in top condition. His medical and psychological condition are good.”
Saif was seen by some as a potential reformist successor to his father in the years before 2011 and remains a key figure for Gaddafi loyalists.
Seeking to rebuild their influence, they present Saif as someone who can help reconcile the country’s rival factions, though he is sought for alleged war crimes both in his home country and by the International Criminal Court.
“The aim is to achieve peace in Libya,” said Zaidi. “He follows Libyan affairs closely every day.”
In June, Zaidi said Saif had been freed in Zintan under an amnesty law passed two years ago by a parliament based in eastern Libya.
Earlier reports that Saif had been liberated turned out to be false, and uncertainty about his whereabouts and status have long fueled rumors.
Those included speculation during the summer that he was about to re-emerge with a speech or public statement.
No physical evidence of Saif’s whereabouts has been offered. He was last seen by an independent international observer in June 2014.
A Tripoli court sentenced Saif to death in absentia in 2015 for war crimes, including killing protesters during the revolution.
The International Criminal Court, based in the Netherlands, is also seeking his arrest and said in June it was trying to verify the reports of Saif’s release.
(Reporting by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Hugh Lawson)