Who: Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
What: Reports coming from Libya say 12 political prisoners have been freed from jails after mediation efforts by Gaddafi International Charity and Development, a human rights group headed by Saif al-Islam, the second oldest son of the Libyan dictator. “The 12 were released this afternoon after spending close to a quarter of their jail terms for belonging to various banned political groups,” Mohammed Ternish, the chairman of the Libya-based Human Rights Association said in a statement.
Where: The political prisoners were freed from jails in Benghazi, the second city of Libya.
When: The orders of freedom of the 12 former Islamists came on Thursday, 3 February.
Why: Libyan leader Col. Gaddafi has come under tremendous pressure since the ouster of neighbouring Tunisian dictator, Ben Ali. Thousands of people, inspired by protests in Tunisia, have been demonstrating in the capital Tripoli and other cities since the last few weeks against the housing shortages for the working class. Analysts believe the move is to give concession to the opposition parties that are clamouring for democracy and socio-political reforms in the country. The opposition, especially the Islamic parties, is not visible on the national scene but exerts considerable influence on the ground.
How: Saif al-Islam heads the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which is dedicated to “development and humanitarian work in cultural, economic, social and human rights fields”. He secured the release of 214 Islamist militants in an effort to promote national reconciliation in May last year. The Gaddafi’s son is seen as the favourite to replace his ageing dad who is in power since the bloodless coup in September 1969.