Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 18:33 UK

Gaddafi charged for cleric kidnap

Musr Sadr
Sheikh Musa Sadr remains a revered figure for many Lebanese Shia Muslims

Lebanon has indicted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi over the disappearance of a prominent Shia Muslim cleric during a visit to Libya 30 years ago.

It is widely believed in Lebanon that Sheikh Moussa Sadr, who was revered locally, was kidnapped and killed on the orders of senior Libyan officials.

Libya has always denied involvement and says the sheikh left the country safely on a plane bound for Rome.

Col Gaddafi is accused of conspiring to kidnap and false imprisonment.

The charges carry the death penalty, but correspondents say it is highly unlikely that Col Gaddafi will ever stand trial in Lebanon.

Revered figure

Col Gaddafi has ignored a previous Lebanese summons for questioning about the case and he has never officially visited Lebanon since the cleric's disappearance.

Sheikh Moussa Sadr and two aides were visiting Libya in 1978 when they mysteriously disappeared.

Born in Iran in 1929, he had emigrated to Lebanon, where he remains a revered figure among the country's large Shia minority.

He founded Lebanon's opposition Amal movement, which is now led by parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri.

A charismatic speaker and religious scholar, the sheikh is credited with helping transform the Lebanese Shia into the major political force they are today.

Wednesday's arrest warrant was issued under a Lebanese law which allows for the indictment of any suspect who fails to respond to a summons for questioning.

Court in Lebanon summons Gaddafi
03 Aug 04 |  Middle East
Colonel Gaddafi's Libya
15 May 06 |  Middle East
Country profile: Libya
04 Apr 08 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Lebanon
12 Jul 08 |  Country profiles

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