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EU Unfreezes Former Libyan Official's Assets

The European Union has unfrozen the personal assets of a former manager of Libya's national wealth fund the EU once claimed was a "close confidante" of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

In March, in an effort to increase pressure on Gadhafi's government, the EU froze the riches of his inner circle that were deposited in European institutions. But Mustafa Zarti, the one-time deputy head of the Libya Investment Authority, appealed the decision. He noted that he had resigned his position on February 24 and had no intention of continuing to help manage the $65 billion fund.

On Friday, Zarti claimed vindication as the EU unfroze his accounts at the national bank in Austria, where he holds dual citizenship. He said the decision was "a victory for the rule of law," and he accused the Austrian Foreign Ministry of freezing his assets simply because media reports falsely portrayed him as a money man for Gadhafi.

He denied a close connection with the Gadhafi government, but said he was a long-time friend of Gadhafi's son, Saif Al-Islam.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.