, Beirut, Dec 12 – Hannibal Gadhafi, the high-living businessman son of the late Libyan dictator, was freed late Friday, several hours after he was kidnapped in Lebanon by an unknown armed group, security sources told AFP.
Lebanese police freed Gadhafi and were set to question him, one source said, without specifying where the businessman had been released.
A second security source told AFP Gadhafi had been “kidnapped by an armed group in the region of Bekaa while he was travelling from Syria, before being released on Friday night in the same region”.
Bekaa is an eastern stronghold of Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said Hannibal Gadhafi’s kidnappers had demanded “information on Mussa Sadr”, a Lebanese Shiite leader who went missing in 1978.
Beirut blamed the disappearance on the longtime Libyan strongman, and the Gadhafi family was branded persona non grata by Lebanon, especially among members of the Shiite Muslim community.
A former Libyan envoy to the Arab League, Abdel Moneim al-Honi, told the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat in 2011 that Sadr had been ordered killed during a visit to Libya and was buried in the southern region of Sabha.
Late Friday, the Lebanese private television channel Al-Jadid broadcast a video purportedly showing Gadhafi.
In the video he appears to have been beaten up and has two black eyes, but he says that he is “well” and calls on “all those who have evidence about Sadr to present it without delay”.
It was not clear when or where the video was filmed.
– Playboy lifestyle –
The lavish lifestyles of Gadhafi’s family and entourage helped fuel the anger in Libya that sparked the protests that led eventually to the strongman’s ouster and killing in 2011.
Hannibal, born in 1975, was among a group of family members — including Gadhafi’s wife Safiya, son Mohammed and daughter Aisha — who escaped to neighbouring Algeria after the fall of Tripoli.
In 2008, Hannibal and his wife, the Lebanese model Aline Skaf, sparked a diplomatic incident with Switzerland when they were arrested in a luxury Geneva hotel for assaulting two former servants.
The Libyan regime demanded that no charges be brought and an apology be made over the allegations that Hannibal had assaulted the pair, a Tunisian and a Moroccan. The case was dropped.
In 2011, as the elder Gadhafi was battling the uprising against him, a private jet carrying Skaf was refused permission to land at Beirut’s airport.
An official said at the time that acting transport minister Ghazi Aridi had asked for a detailed passenger manifest and that his request was rejected by the Libyans.
Two other sons of the late dictator, Saadi and one-time heir apparent Seif al-Islam, are in detention in Libya. Three more were killed during the Libyan revolt.