Lebanon's justice minister says he has refused a request from the Syrian government to return the son of Libya's late dictator Moammar Gadhafi to Damascus.

Ashraf Rifi said Wednesday that returning Gadhafi to Damascus would violate a 1951 agreement between the two countries.

Lebanese authorities this week arrested Hannibal Gadhafi for questioning over the decades-old disappearance of a Lebanese Shiite imam in Libya.

Gadhafi was three years old when Imam Moussa al-Sadr disappeared with two companions during a 1978 official visit to Libya. The unsolved case has figured centrally in the Lebanese Shiite community's narrative of marginalization.

The younger Gadhafi, who reportedly lives in Syria and has kept a low profile after his father's 2011 overthrow, was kidnapped last week by Lebanese Shiite militants, who afterward handed him to authorities.