Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Official Libyan sources have denied Swiss press reports that Saif-al-Islam, the second son of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, has applied for political asylum in Switzerland. In statements to Asharq Al-Awsat, the sources derided these reports which they described as inaccurate and fabricated. They said that Saif-al-Islam, who heads al-Gaddafi Establishment for Development, is present in Libya. He conducted talks a few days ago in Tripoli with Khalid Mishal, the head of the Political Bureau of the Palestinian Hamas movement and footage of the meeting was aired on the official Libyan TV, they said.
Al-Gaddafi’s son returned to Libya after taking part in the proceedings of the Davos Forum in Switzerland and then went to the British capital, London, to meet personalities within his project to establish a center for studies in a Western capital.
Swiss newspapers have published reports asking whether Saif-al-Islam al-Gaddafi has applied for political asylum in Switzerland. They said this question is asked by everybody in Tripoli because the son has not returned to the country since he came to the Davos Forum. Al-Gaddafi’s son told Asharq Al-Awsat recently that he would return to Libya to resume his functions as head of the al-Gaddafi Development Establishment. He also said that he had no intention of reconsidering the decision he took last year to retire from public political life and give up practicing his traditional role in Libya.
Meanwhile al-Gaddafi Development Establishment said in a statement that its efforts have resulted in approvals to facilitate the return of a number of Libyans residing abroad who wish to come back and who had made requests to return to the homeland. The statement had the names of 13 Libyans believed to have been in the opposition or to have fled abroad.
Former dissident Juma’a Utayqah, who is at present a close associate of Saif-al-Islam al-Gaddafi, said Libyan authorities released him two days ago on condition that he does not leave the country after investigations that continued for 18 days at the Criminal Investigations Department in Tripoli. Speaking over the phone from Tripoli to Asharq Al-Awsat, Utayqah said in his first statements to a local or international publication after his return home that “the decision to release me means there is still a possibility of the matter being referred to court. In any event, I have welcomed the step, and I am confident that all the accusations leveled at me are void and without a basis of truth”.
Utayqah was questioned by the Libyan General Attorney in Libya in connection with a complaint by the family of Ammar Al-Daw demanding an investigation in the circumstances of his assassination in 1984 while serving as Libya’s Ambassador in Rome. The Libyan State Prosecution accused Utayqah of belonging to a banned political organization, the dissident Libyan National Salvation Front. But Utayqah said after his release that “these accusations are not true and what they are trying to pin on me is inaccurate. I am not afraid of anything, and I do not know how far matters will go in the General Attorney’s office, considering that he is the one who initiated the proceedings. I understand he can summon me for investigations at any time”.
He described the circumstances of his detention as not having been bad even, though he had been isolated from the outside world and had no means of communicating. He denied having been beaten or tortured. He said his arrest represented a violation of human rights and was forbidden under international law. Utayqah addressed through Asharq Al-Awsat salutes and thanks to Saif-al-Islam al-Gaddafi who recently vowed in exclusive statements to Asharq Al-Awsat to punish those who arrested Utayqah and described the arrest decision as silly. Utayqah said: “On this occasion I would like through you to thank his declared position. I owe him, and I salute him, and I am no stranger to this person.”
Utayqah refused to consider that his arrest was aimed at the reformist current led by al-Gaddafi’s son. But he added: “Arresting me and others are a hindrance and causes confusion. These are practices that hamper the process of progress and national reconciliation. Such actions are condemned and we do not wish to see them happen in our country”.
Al-Gaddafi Establishment considered that the release came to correct a mistake and represented a return to righteousness and the law. It said it came out of consideration for the circumstances of this case. It said in a statement: “As much as we want the truth to be unveiled in the incident of the assassination of the late Ammar Daw al-Tafazi, we are concerned also that innocent people should not be dragged into this serious charge for unknown reasons”. It said it will issue a detailed statement later to public opinion on this issue to reveal the information available on it.
It considered that the question that poses itself and that was raised by the initiation by the General Attorney’s Office of this case is why the General Attorney has ignored other humanitarian issues referred to it from the site of al-Gaddafi Appeal (which belongs to the Establishment) and has failed to launch any investigations into them so far. It said this prompts it to demand that the Secretariat of the General People’s Congress (parliament) should adopt the procedures required to question the General Attorney about all the incidents mentioned in the memorandum directed by some civil society organizations to the Secretariat of Legal Affairs and Human Rights at the General People’s Congress.
The meetings of Popular Conferences (localities and municipalities) took place yesterday in various parts of Libya. They will continue for two weeks to discuss al-Gaddafi’s recent announcements on distributing wealth and rebuilding the people’s authority in a new way. Parliament is scheduled to meet on the second day of next month to study the decisions taken by these conferences, amid expectations that there will be a reshuffle in the cabinet headed by Dr Al-Bughdadi al-Mahmudi.