Thursday, 6 March 2014

Saadi Qadhafi extradited to Libya

Saadi Qadhafi, the third son of Libya’s deposed dictator Muammar Qadhafi, was extradited early today from neighbouring Niger back to Libya. According to a statement posted on the government’s official Facebook page, Saadi is currently being held in the high-security Hadaba Prison in Tripoli.

"The Libyan Government thanks the President of the Republic of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, we also thank the Niger Government and the people of Niger for their cooperation with the Libyan Government in pledging its commitment to the treatment of the accused on the principles of justice and international norms in dealing with prisoners. God save Libya.”

Unofficial pictures were also released by the government-backed militia holding the businessman and former professional footballer, allegedly showing Saadi dressed in a blue prison uniform having his head shaved. There is a high likelihood that he will face the death penalty.

Libya has been seeking his extradition since he fled to Niger in the wake of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted his father. Niamey had previously refused to hand over Saadi around the time of the first anniversary of the February uprising because they feared he would be executed if he returned to Libya. A government spokesperson for the Nigerien authorities, Marou Amadou, said that it would only extradite Saadi “to a government which has an independent and impartial justice system”.

Following this request from Tripoli, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said any extradition requests would be viewed on strict legal merits alone, without referring specifically to the Saadi case. He had originally been granted asylum in November 2011 on humanitarian grounds, shortly after Interpol issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with allegations of forcefully misappropriated property and armed intimidation when he was head of the Libyan Football Federation. As a member of the ICC, Niger was obliged to extradite Qadhafi.

Saadi’s extradition is a real coup for the Libyan authorities. He was one of the most hated figures in the Qadhafi regime and arguably the most disliked of all Qadhafi’s sons. He had a reputation for being exceptionally brutal and is remembered in Benghazi particularly for his bulldozing of the Al-Ahli SC (Benghazi) stadium in an act of revenge after his football team, Al-Ahli SC (Tripoli), lost to the opposing side.

There is likely to be ongoing jubilation in Libya at the news. Congress is congratulating the families of the martyrs and the revolutionaries and is thanking Niger. This will serve as a reminder to a deeply troubled country of why they launched the uprising in the first place. 

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2014 Menas Associates

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