50 Political Prisoners Released from Misrata

REUTERS, MISRATA

At least 50 prisoners were released from a Misrata jail on Saturday where they had spent the past four years behind bars.

The men are reported to have been former fighters, loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

They were welcomed by their families to the sound of women ululating.

This is the third such release from the Jawiya correction facility in Misrata this year. Since January, 170 prisoners have been released, while another 430 remain in prison, the majority of them still waiting to be convicted and sentenced.

For the prisoners and their families Saturday marked the end of four long years of waiting and wondering when and if they would ever see their loved ones again.

“Thank God today I was released and now I’m going to go home to my family and children and my mother, thank God,” said one released prisoner, overcome with joy at the thought of returning home.

The father of one released prisoner, though thrilled to have his son back, remembered those that remain behind bars, and the many others whose whereabouts since the revolution remain unknown.

“May God bring back to us all those that are still missing and ensure the release of all the prisoners,” said the father of one released prisoner.

“May God bring back tenderness and compassion into our hearts and may we be unified once again in our land,” he added referencing the divisions and conflict that continue plague Libya.

Although some Libyan warring factions have signed an initial United Nations- sponsored agreement to form a unity government and end the fighting in the North African state, a key player from a parliament controlling the capital Tripoli stayed away.

Western officials say the U.N. talks are the only hope of halting fighting among factions allied to the oil producer’s two governments and parliaments vying for power four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

An armed alliance known as Libya Dawn took over Tripoli and declared its own government and parliament a year ago, driving out the internationally recognized premier and deepening anarchy in the North African country.

The United Nations, wrapping up months of negotiations, had invited the warring factions to the Moroccan coastal town of Skhirat to sign an initial power-sharing agreement.

But while delegates from the elected parliament, the House of Representatives based in the east, signed the deal, the Tripoli-based parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), refused to attend.

Under the plan, Libya will get a one-year government of national accord. A council of ministers headed by a prime minister and two deputies would have executive authority. The House of Representatives would be the legislative body, a plan meeting opposition from the GNC.

The factions have yet to agree on details.