Last updated: 11 January, 2012

Libya open to probe into missing Lebanon imam

Libya is ready to work with Lebanon to probe the mysterious disappearance of Shiite imam Mussa Sadr who went missing upon arrival in Tripoli in 1978, an official said Wednesday.

The ruling National Transitional Council was “ready to form a joint commission with the Lebanese to investigate” what happened to Sadr, said Fathi Baja, head of political affairs at the NTC.

A Lebanese delegation headed by Foreign Minister Adnan Mansur arrived in Tripoli on Wednesday to discuss the case, in the first visit to Libya by any Lebanese diplomats in more than 30 years.

Sadr, a charismatic and revered spiritual leader, had been officially invited to Libya during the rule of Moamer Kadhafi in 1978 along with an aide and a journalist.

But the three men have not been heard of since and Tripoli had always maintained that the cleric had left Libya for Italy.

“NTC members, including its president Mustafa Abdel Jalil, have no information about the circumstances of the disappearance and what happened to imam Mussa Sadr and those who accompanied him,” said Baja.

He said some clues of their case could possibly be found in files obtained by the new rulers which belonged to the intelligence, foreign affairs and police authorities of the previous regime.

Baja also dismissed recent reports that Sadr had died of natural causes in a prison cell in 1998.

“There is no information about that. Everything that was said is a rumour. There is no evidence,” he said.

A Kadhafi aide, Ahmed Ramadan, had previously said on television that Sadr was “liquidated” after he met the former strongman in Tripoli.

Sadr’s trip to Libya was aimed at negotiating an end to Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.

The Iranian-born cleric arrived in Tripoli on August 25, 1978, with two companions Sheikh Mohammed Yacoub and journalist Abbas Badreddin. They were seen for the last time on August 31, 1978.

His disappearance had been a source of tension between Lebanon and the Kadhafi regime, which was ousted late last year following an eight-month armed uprising.