Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s second son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, is said to have been freed in Libya under an amnesty, in a move which could fuel further instability.
The former Libyan leader’s preferred successor, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi had been held by a militia in the town of Zintan for the past six years.
The Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Battalion said Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, 44, had been released on June 9 but he has not been shown in public.
Local reports suggest Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is now in the eastern city of Bayda with relatives.
His lawyer, Khaled al-Zaidi, also said he had been released but would not say which city Saif al-Islam had traveled to for security reasons.
The Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Battalion said it was acting on a request from the “interim government”.
That government – based in the east of Libya – had already offered amnesty to Saif al-Islam.
However, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has been sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Tripoli, the west of Libya, where control is in the hands of the rival, UN-backed Government of National Accord.
Previous reports of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s release proved to be false.
Muammar Gaddafi’s son is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity during his father’s unsuccessful attempts to put down the rebellion.
Saif al-Islam – who was controversially granted a PhD by the London School of Economics in 2008 – was captured in November 2011 after three months on the run following the end of Muammar Gaddafi’s decades-long rule.
He was previously known for playing a key role in building relations with the West after 2000, and had been considered the reformist face of his father’s regime.
However, after the 2011 uprising, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi found himself accused of incitement to violence and murdering protesters.
Four years later, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was sentenced to death by firing squad following a trial involving 30 of Muammar Gaddafi’s close associates.