Libyan Court Says Gadhafi's Son Can Run for President Despite Past Convictions

The son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is allowed to run in upcoming presidential elections despite being convicted in the past of using violence against protestors, a Libyan court ruled Thursday.

The court's ruling reversed last week's decision by Libya's High National Elections Committee, the country's top electoral body, that prohibited Seif al-Islam Gadhafi from running for the presidential office, the Associated Press reported.

Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and slain by a NATO-supported uprising in 2011, plunging the North African country into a decade of violence and disorder. The rebellion came after years of national division between a government in the east that was supported by commander Khalifa Hifter and a separate United Nations-backed administration in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, the AP reported.

Now, an interim government rules Libya, instated by some of the country's delegates after U.N.-led talks in February.

A Tripoli court sentenced Seif al-Islam to death in 2015 for employing violence against the protestors in the uprising, though rival authorities have called that ruling into doubt since. Seif al-Islam is also wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes of humanity charges also connected to the 2011 rebellion, according to the AP.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Seif al-Islam Election Run
The son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is allowed to run in upcoming presidential elections despite being convicted in the past of using violence against protestors, a Libyan court ruled Thursday. Seif al-Islam is seen after his capture in the custody of revolutionary fighters in Zintan, a town south of the capital Tripoli, Libya on November 19. Ammar El-Darwish/AP Photo

A court in the southern province of Sabha ruled in Seif al-Islam's favor, Libyan media outlets reported. For almost a week prior, the court had failed to convene to decide on the appeal after the building was surrounded by armed men who preventing judges from entering.

The first round of voting is meant to start on December 24, though a number of divisive issues need to be resolved before then. It remains unclear whether any further legal challenges could be made to Seif al-Islam's candidacy.

In a Twitter post late Thursday, he thanked the judges for risking their personal safety "in the name of truth," and his family and supporters.

The elections come after years of U.N.-led attempts to usher in a more democratic future and end the country's civil war.

The upcoming vote faces many challenges, including unresolved issues over laws governing the elections and occasional infighting among armed groups. Other obstacles include the deep rift that remains between the country's east and west and the presence of thousands of foreign fighters and troops.

Several other high-profile presidential hopefuls have filed their candidacy documents, including Hifter, and the country's interim prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah. In recent days, local courts have been looking into several appeals against candidates.

Also on Thursday, the country's high election commission said that armed men had attacked four different polling stations in Azizia town and one in the capital, Tripoli. The commission said they stole or destroyed over 2000 voting cards, that eligible voters are expected to carry on the election day.

Seif al-Islam Candidacy Protest
People gather at the Martyrs' Square in Libya's capital Tripoli on November 19 to protest against Seif al-Islam Gadhafi's candidacy in the country's December presidential polls. A court ruled Gadhafi can run in the election. Mahmud Turkia/AFP via Getty Images