HRW urges 'immediate release' of Hannibal Gaddafi: Denounces Lebanon's prolonged pretrial detention

Lebanon News
2024-01-16 | 08:14
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HRW urges 'immediate release' of Hannibal Gaddafi: Denounces Lebanon's prolonged pretrial detention
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HRW urges 'immediate release' of Hannibal Gaddafi: Denounces Lebanon's prolonged pretrial detention

On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Lebanese authorities to "immediately release Hannibal Gaddafi," the son of Libya's former leader, who has been held in pretrial detention since his arrest in December 2015.

"Nearly 80 percent of Lebanon's prison population is in pretrial detention, some held for many years and without charge," it said.

The Internal Security Forces brought Gaddafi into custody for allegedly having a connection in the disappearance of Shiite Imam Moussa al-Sadr and two of his companions in Libya after an official visit in 1978. 

Lebanon's authorities charged him with "withholding information and subsequently interfering in the crime of continued kidnapping" of Imam Sadr, expressed one of his lawyers.

"Hannibal Gaddafi's apparent arbitrary detention on spurious charges after spending eight years in pretrial detention makes a mockery of Lebanon's already strained judicial system," said Hanan Salah, associate Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. 

"Lebanese authorities have long since exhausted any justification for continuing to detain him and should drop charges and release him," Salah added.

According to what the lawyer told Human Rights Watch, Gaddafi went on a hunger strike from June to October 2023 in protest of his "continued arbitrary detention as well as detention conditions that resulted in him losing considerable weight and repeated hospitalization."

After unidentified armed men kidnapped him in 2015 in Syria near the Lebanon border and transported him to Lebanon, where he was "tortured," Lebanese authorities freed Gaddafi. Still, they reportedly arrested him after "Judge Zaher Hamadeh issued an arrest warrant accusing him of concealing information about the disappearance of Imam Sadr."

In 2016, Gaddafi was formally charged, based on reports alleging that he knew where Sadr was held between 1978 and 1982. "Gaddafi and his lawyer have denied this allegation," said HRW.

In 2015, Lebanese authorities detained a former Hezbollah member of parliament, Hassan Yaacoub, for his alleged role in his kidnapping, and in 2018, a court gave Gaddafi a 15-month prison sentence for "insulting" the Lebanese judiciary and a one-year travel ban.

"Lebanese authorities have claimed that Hannibal Gaddafi provided an affidavit during his detention with information on Sadr and his aides' alleged detention in Libya after their disappearance, but a lawyer for Gaddafi in 2022 dismissed these claims, stating that Gaddafi had been forced to sign a document under duress, without the presence of a lawyer," reported the organization.

Salah said, "It is unlawful to hold someone in pretrial detention for many years merely for their possible association with the person responsible for wrongdoing."
 

Lebanon News

Human Rights Watch

HRW

Lebanon

Lebanese

Hannibal Gaddafi

Libya

Detention

Imam Moussa Al-Sadr

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