Libya Olympic committee chief released: deputy

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 22, 2012 6:33 AM
Libya Olympic committee chief released: deputy

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The president of Libya's Olympic Committee was freed on Sunday a week after he was taken from his car by gunmen in Tripoli, and is now in his home, his deputy said.

Nabil Elalem was with an colleague last Sunday when two cars carrying armed men in military-style clothing blocked the road, colleagues said. The men told him he had to go with them and sped away, leaving his colleague behind.

There had been no news about his whereabouts since.

"He was released at 6.30 (0030 EDT) this morning. He is now at his home," Noureddin El-Krekshi, deputy chief of the committee, told Reuters, without giving details. "He is fine."

Since the end of the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi last year, the interim government has struggled to impose its authority on numerous armed groups who refuse to lay down their weapons and often take the law into their own hands.

Elalem's family and colleagues had demonstrated outside the prime minister's office on Thursday urging the government to do more to find him.

"He is now resting," his brother Salah told Reuters.

Elalem, a former Libyan judo champion, took charge of the Olympic body after its president Mohammed Gaddafi, one of the deposed dictator's sons, fled to Algeria last August.

Libya's representatives to the London Olympic Games left for the British capital on Saturday ahead of the July 27 opening. The small delegation is set to compete in judo, swimming, athletics and weight-lifting.

Asked if Elalem would go to London, Krekshi said: "Maybe in two or three days time. The Olympic staff have worked hard for his release."

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Ali Shuaib; Editing by Mark Heinrich)