A recent court order banning Hannibal, son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, from leaving Lebanon for a year, brought back the discussion of the “mysterious fate” of Gaddafi’s family.
Some want Hannibal released from prison, stressing that he should not be punished for his father’s crimes, while others demanded Libyan authorities intervene in this case and reveal the truth to the people.
Three of Gaddafi's nine children were killed during the "revolution" by the "rebels," including Muotasim Bellah, who served as national security adviser to the country. The remaining six survived but are in different countries: al-Saadi imprisoned in Tripoli, Hannibal detained in Lebanon, and Saif al-Islam whose whereabouts are not known. In addition, Gaddafi's wife, Safia Farkash, left for Algeria with her daughter Aisha, whereas, Mohammed, Gaddafi’s eldest son from his first wife Fathia, moved to Oman. Reports indicated that Hana, their adopted sister, most likely died during the US bombing of Tripoli in 1986, and was only 4-years-old back then.
A Lebanese judge has banned Hannibal, Gaddafi’s fifth son, from leaving Lebanon for a year after a case was filed in which a Lebanese citizen, Hussein Hbeish, accused him of "forming a terrorist organization, kidnapping and attempted murder”, Lebanon’s The Daily Star reported Monday.
The newspaper said that Judge Rita Ghantous decided on July 12 to prevent Hannibal from leaving Lebanon for a year, and sent a memorandum to General Security to implement the decision.
In his lawsuit, Hbeish indicated that during a visit to Libya in 2016, he was kidnapped by an armed group loyal to Hannibal. The group demanded the Lebanese government release Gaddafi's son in exchange for setting Hbeish free.
Hannibal is also serving a one and a half year sentence for insulting the Lebanese judiciary. In December 2015, Lebanese authorities detained him as part of an investigation into the disappearance of Imam Musa al-Sadr and two of his companions after a visit to Libya at the invitation of Muammar Gaddafi in 1978.
Member of Libya’s House of Representatives Mohammed al-Abani expressed his "respect" to the Lebanese judiciary, but said that blaming Hannibal for his father’s mistakes is “unjust and very arbitrary.”
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Abani wondered how a person can be punished for the crime of a political system. He pointed out that at the time of the crime, Hannibal was just a child.
As for al-Saadi, Gaddafi's family was informed by its lawyer that al-Saadi, who had been imprisoned in al-Hadabah since Niger handed him over in March 2014, has disappeared.
Yet, Sadiq al-Sour, head of investigations at the prosecutor's office, explained that al-Saadi did not leave the prison. On April 3, al-Saadi’s lawyer, Mubaraka al-Tawergi, said that the court had cleared al-Saadi of charges related to the murder of the former al-Ittihad player and coach Bashir al-Riyani.
Al-Saadi is still in prison even though the court had issued its verdict three months ago. Judicial sources say he is on trial for other misdemeanours like kidnapping, and financing armed groups.
Many Libyans are divided about the future of Gaddafi's sons and their presence inside the country, according to a political source from Tripoli.
“There are tribes and parties who do not mind their return and rather welcome their integration into the political system,” the source added.
The source, who declined to be named, told Asharq Al-Awsat that some politicians do not want Gaddafi's sons, especially Saif al-Islam, in Libya’s political life.
He spoke about "an uncertain future for the family itself amid Saif al-Islam’s disappearance” who is wanted internationally, his sister’s Aisha’s residence outside the country, and al-Saadi's imprisonment.
Khamis, Gaddafi's seventh son, worked in the United States when the Libyan "revolution" erupted, but returned to Libya and was killed in August 2011. Also, Saif al-Arab, Gaddafi's sixth son, was killed after returning from Munich on April 30, 2011.
Saif al-Islam had not been seen since Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Brigade, in control of al-Zintan town, released him on June 11, 2017. The brigade said at the time that it released the man at the request of the interim government.
However, some people who claim to be close to him, have maintained his presence in the political scene by speaking on his behalf or issuing statements attributed to him, saying that he intends to run for the upcoming presidential elections, before others denied such statements altogether.
Saif al-Islam is wanted by Libyan judicial authorities after he was sentenced to death in absentia in 2015 for his role in the "suppression of the 2011 revolution”. In addition, the International Criminal Court also requested Saif al-Islam be tried for crimes against humanity during his father's presidency.
Libyan politician Suleiman al-Bayoudi expressed regret for "the absence of any role for the Libyan government in the arrest of Hannibal in Lebanon and its circumstances."
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Bayoudi called on the Libyan authorities to clarify to Libyans about the Hannibal case, and “have a legal and diplomatic role to defend any Libyan citizen."
As for Aisha, she has been put on the EU list of Libyan personnel whose bank accounts had been frozen and are banned from travelling.
The European Union’s General Court lifted the sanctions on Aisha in March last year and a travel ban on her mother Safia was also lifted.