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Fugitive Kadhafi playboy son handed back to Libya

07 march 2014, 13:17
A son of late dictator Moamer Kadhafi was extradited Thursday from Niger to Libya, where he is accused of murder and repression during the 2011 uprising that ended his father's rule, AFP reports.

"Saadi Kadhafi was handed over to the Libyan government on March 6. He has arrived in the country and is in the custody of the judiciary's police," a government statement said.

The government said Saadi Kadhafi, who once played professional football in Italy, would be held in accordance with "international standards regarding the treatment of prisoners".

The Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, a militia made up of former rebels, posted five photographs on Facebook of a disconsolate-looking Saadi wearing a blue prison uniform having his head and beard shaved.

The 40-year-old was pictured in the Libya Prison Authority photographs kneeling on the floor as he was being shaved by a man with an electic razor.

It released before and after photographs.

He arrived on Wednesday night at Mitiga air base before being taken, manacled and blindfolded, to Tripoli's Al-Hadhba prison, deputy defence minister Khaled al-Sherif said on his Facebook page.

A spokesman for the attorney general said Saadi faces several charges, including "crimes to keep his father in power".

Seddik al-Sour told AFP the charges include involvement in the 2005 murder of a former coach of Tripoli football club Al-Ittihad.

He is also accused of "seizing goods by force and intimidation when he headed the Libyan Football Federation".

Saadi Kadhafi was best known as the head of Libya's football federation and a player who paid his way into Italy's top division.

The playboy footballer, born in May 1973, had been off the radar since fleeing in a convoy to Niger across Libya's southern desert in September 2011.

Military career

After hanging up his football boots, Saadi had forged a military career, heading an elite unit.

Days after the revolt began in the eastern city of Benghazi, Saadi appeared by his father's side in military uniform, a Kalashnikov assault rifle slung over his shoulder.

Unlike his brothers, however, no information emerged during the eight-month uprising of Saadi taking part in combat.

Interpol had issued a "Red Notice" for Saadi, for "allegedly misappropriating properties through force and armed intimidation when he headed the Libyan Football Federation".

Libya had repeatedly called for Saadi's extradition from Niger, which had granted him asylum on "humanitarian" grounds saying it had insufficient guarantees he would have a fair trial.

Tripoli charged he was sowing sedition from exile.

Niger said it handed over Kadhafi because it no longer felt he would face the risk of extrajudicial killing, and because it wanted to improve ties with Tripoli.

Marou Amadou, the country's justice minister and government spokesman, said the political situation had "changed" in Libya.

Also, Niger had tried to find another country to take in Kadhafi, but "we didn't find any candidate," he said.

A group of NGOs in Niger condemned the extradition, warning that "the life of Saadi Kadhafi is under threat in Libya, which is a non-state with no security."

Three of Kadhafi's sons died in the 2011 uprising, including Mutassim who was killed by rebels in Sirte on October 20, the same day as his father.

Another son, Seif al-Arab, was killed in a NATO air raid in April 2011, and his brother Khamis died in combat in August at the height of the revolt.

Several key members of the Kadhafi clan survived, however, including the dictator's erstwhile heir apparent Seif al-Islam, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court but detained by a militia at Zintan in western Libya.

Two other brothers, former Libyan Olympic Committee chief Muhammad and Hannibal, who made headlines during scandal-packed European holidays, are believed still to be in Algeria, as is the fallen dictator's widow Safiya and daughter Aisha.

More than two and a half years after Kadhafi's downfall, Libya's transitional authorities have struggled to integrate former rebels into the police and army.

Security forces are regularly attacked, especially in the east, and the presence of rival ex-rebel groups, heavily armed with weapons looted from Kadhafi's arsenals, could yet push Libya into civil war.

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