BEIRUT – Lebanese authorities issued an arrest warrant for the son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi Monday, days after militants kidnapped and released him.
Prosecutors accuse Hannibal Qaddafi of hiding information related to the disappearance of a top Lebanese Shiite cleric in Libya 37 years ago.
Judge Zaher Hamadeh issued the warrant after questioning Qaddafi Monday at the main courthouse, known locally as the Justice Palace. Hamadeh had asked that Qaddafi be brought in for questioning on whether he has information related to the case of Imam Moussa al-Sadr.
Al-Sadr and two companions went missing in 1978 during an official visit to Libya at the invitation of Moammar Qaddafi. Lebanon has blamed Moammar Qaddafi for his disappearance, and relations between the two countries have been tense over the case ever since.
Hannibal Qaddafi, who was three in 1978, was briefly kidnapped by Shiite militants in Lebanon before they handed him over to police late Friday. He appeared in a video aired late Friday on local Al-Jadeed TV saying anyone with information about al-Sadr should come forward. He appeared to have been beaten.
Al-Sadr's family has filed a lawsuit against Hannibal Qaddafi, accusing him of hiding information. The family believes he may still be alive in a Libyan prison, though most Lebanese presume al-Sadr is dead. Libya has maintained that the cleric and his two traveling companions left Tripoli in 1978 on a flight to Rome and suggested he was a victim of a power struggle among Shiites.
Al-Sadr was the founder of Amal, a Shiite political and military group that took part in the long Lebanese civil war that began in 1975, largely pitting Muslims against Christians.
Hannibal Qaddafi, who is married to a Lebanese woman, was arrested in 2008 for allegedly beating up two servants in a Geneva luxury hotel, sparking a diplomatic spat that dragged on for months. In 2005, a French court convicted him of striking a pregnant companion in a Paris hotel. He was given a four-month suspended prison sentence and a small fine.
He fled to Algeria after Tripoli fell, along with his mother and several other relatives. Media reports said he then moved to Syria, where he had been living until he came to Lebanon.
He is wanted by Interpol for crimes related to the autocratic rule of his father, who was killed by opposition fighters in 2011 following the uprising in Libya, ending his four-decade rule of the north African country.