Libya formally requests release of hunger-striking Gaddafi son from Lebanese detention

Libya formally requests release of hunger-striking Gaddafi son from Lebanese detention
Hannibal Gaddafi has been held in Lebanon since 2015, and has been on hunger strike since June to protest his detention.
3 min read
15 August, 2023
Hannibal Gaddafi's health has deteriorated as a result of his months-long hunger strike [Getty]

Libyan judicial authorities on Monday formally asked Lebanon to release Hannibal Gaddafi, son of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, as his health deteriorates because of a hunger strike.

The junior Gaddafi has been held in Lebanon since 2015, and has abstained from food since 3 June this year to protest his detention without trial.

His health has worsened as a result, and he has reportedly suffered weakness, spinal inflammation and muscle pain. The former’s dictator’s son, who has only been consuming minimal amounts of water, has also been hospitalised at least twice.

Libyan Public Prosecutor Sediq al-Sour sent an official request to his Lebanese counterpart Ghassan Oweidat regarding Hannibal’s release, according to Lebanese judicial officials.

The Lebanese officials revealed this information to The Associated Press, who spoke to the news agency on condition of anonymity due to not being authorised to speak to the media.

Gaddafi has been in Lebanese custody for the past eight years.

He was abducted by Lebanese militants who demand information regarding Shia imam Musa al-Sadr, who disappeared in Libya in 1978.

The Lebanese Amal Movement – founded by al-Sadr - believes that the regime of Hannibal's father, longtime Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi orchestrated Sadr's disappearance, with many suspicions that Gaddafi ordered the Lebanese Shia imam's kidnapping.

Sadr's disappearance has cast a shadow over relations between Lebanon and Libya for decades

The note from the Libyan prosecutors said that Libya and Lebanon could cooperate to find new information regarding al-Sadr’s disappearance.

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It also questioned the reasons for Gaddafi’s detention, urging him to be returned to Libya or to Syria where had been living in exile with his wife and children before he was detained.

The Lebanese prosecutor has now referred Gaddafi's case to Zaher Hamadeh, the investigative judge in the al-Sadr case, who is examining Tripoli's request.

Gaddafi was first held in the northeastern city of Baalbek following his abduction, before being recovered by police and then subsequently transferred to a prison in Beirut.

Calls for his release have been made before. Days after his hunger strike, Gaddafi’s lawyer Paul Romanos had said that efforts were being made to obtain his release by engaging with international human rights organisations and legal and political channels.

The Gaddafi family have condemned Hannibal's detention, calling it "unjust" and a "crime."

Hannibal, who was two or three years old at the time of al-Sadr’s disappearance, fled to Algeria and then Oman after his father was overthrown and killed following the 2011 Libyan revolution against his father's dictatorship. He then travelled to Syria, where he was granted political asylum.

(Agencies contributed to this report.)