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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Libya court acquits Saadi Qaddafi of murdering football coach

The son of former Libyan dictator has been cleared of homicide

Saadi Qaddafi, son of Muammar Qaddafi, sits behind bars during a hearing at a courtroom in Tripoli, Libya February 7, 2016. Ismail Zitouny / REUTERS
Saadi Qaddafi, son of Muammar Qaddafi, sits behind bars during a hearing at a courtroom in Tripoli, Libya February 7, 2016. Ismail Zitouny / REUTERS

Tripoli's court of appeals has acquitted Saadi Qaddafi, a son of former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, of murdering a football coach in 2005, a judicial source said Wednesday.

The court's criminal chamber acquitted Saadi Qaddafi on Tuesday of charges of "voluntary homicide", the source said on condition of anonymity.

The former ruler's son was accused of murdering Bashir Al Rayani, a former footballer and coach of Tripoli's Al Ittihad football club, where Qaddafi played, in 2005.

The judicial source added that the ministry of justice asked the supreme court Wednesday to submit an update on the other cases involving Saadi.

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Extradited from Niger on March 2014, Qaddafi is also being tried, among others, for alleged involvement in the deadly crackdown on the revolt that toppled his father's regime in 2011. The case has repeatedly been postponed.

Mr Al Rayani's son, Ali, took to local media to denounce the court's ruling, saying his family would appeal the decision "until justice is served".

"The case is clear. All the evidence and testimony confirm the responsibility of Saadi Qaddafi," Ali Al Rayani told the 218News channel.

"How is it possible that a criminal whose culpability is confirmed by concrete evidence can be acquitted... It's impossible!" he said.

"We could not get justice under his father's regime, we will get it now, I'm confident."

Of Qaddafi's seven sons, three were killed during the uprising, as was their father.

After playing with Libyan clubs, Saadi Qaddafi signed in 2003 with Italy's Perugia club, whose management took him on at the request of then Italian president Silvio Berlusconi, who had close ties with the Libyan regime.

But even though he was a part of the team, Saadi rarely stepped foot on the field, appearing only twice on the substitutes' bench.

He was suspended for three months in his second season with the team for doping.

His greatest achievement was playing 15 minutes against Juventus in May 2004.

In June 2005, he joined Udinese, with whom he played 11 minutes. The following year he joined Sampdoria of Genoa, where he played less than 10 minutes all season.