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BEIRUT, Feb 25: Lebanon’s Shias are hoping that the revolt in Libya may shed light on the fate of their revered spiritual leader Musa Sadr, whose 1978 disappearance soured relations between the two countries.

“We have long been waiting for Muammer Qadhafi the tyrant to fall or be killed in the hope of knowing what happened to our Imam,” said Hussein Maana, 51, a resident of the southern Lebanese village of Maaraka, the hometown of Sadr’s family.Sadr’s daughter Hawra, who is married to an Iranian, said earlier this week that the uprising in Libya has nurtured hope her father may be alive.

The cleric, who would be 83 in April, mysteriously vanished on Aug 31, 1978, while on a trip to Libya.

Abdel Moneim al-Honi, a former colonel in the Libyan army who took part in the 1969 revolution that brought Qadhafi to power, revealed this week that the Libyan strongman had ordered Sadr killed during his visit and that the cleric was buried in the southern region of Sebha.

But members of Lebanon’s Shia Amal movement, founded by Sadr, believe he is not dead. “We have information indicating that Imam Sadr is alive and is being held in a Libyan prison,” Khalil Hamdan, an Amal official, told AFP.