Saif al-Islam Gaddafi released from jail

Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam had been sentenced to death over war crimes during the 2011 revolution but lawyer claims he has been released

Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam has been released by his Libyan jailors, according to his lawyer at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Saif al-Islam was sentenced to death in 2015 for crimes committed during the 2011 revolution that overthrew his father.

Lawyer Karim Khan told France24 his client "was given his liberty on April 12, 2016,” adding that Saif al-Islam was released under an amnesty previously declared by the internationally recognised parliament in Tobruk, which has since been usurped by the UN-backed national unity government of Fayez al-Sarraj.

According to the lawyer, this release was made "in accordance with (Libyan) law." Khan declined to say whether he had spoken to his client, saying only that he "is well and safe and in Libya.”

Saif al-Islam, who was regarded as Gaddafi’s likeliest successor, had been held since 2011 by a militia in Zintan, in a mountainous western region beyond the control of Islamist authorities in the capital, Tripoli.

His captors refused to transfer him to Tripoli, where he was sentenced to death together with eight others in absentia by a court in Tripoli in July 2015 for his part in the killing of protesters during the uprising that toppled his father, but the sentence wasn’t carried through.

Saif al-Islam was not present in court and gave evidence via video link. The verdict had drawn condemnation abroad, with Human Rights Watch saying the trial was riddled with legal flaws and carried out amid widespread lawlessness undermining the credibility of the judiciary.

Saif al-Islam is also wanted by the ICC in The Hague in the Netherlands which issued an arrest warrant in 2011 on preliminary charges of crimes against humanity, murder and persecution for being part of the inner circle of his father’s regime.

Khan said he would file an application to make the ICC case inadmissible, arguing that his client has already been tried by his home country.

Invoking the principle of "double jeopardy", he said: "It is prohibited to try an individual twice for the same offense".

Asked whether dropping charges against Saif al-Islam would hurt reconciliation efforts in the war-torn country, the lawyer said it was "up to Libyans to decide what is best for peace and reconciliation", not the ICC.

Despite the death sentence, Saif al-Islam has reportedly been living in Zintan in a “comfortable house with a new wife and their three-year-old daughter”, and able to move around freely.