Libya and Italy on Friday concluded a deal that allows for the exchange of prisoners between the two countries, Libya's Ministry of Justice has confirmed.

Minister of Justice of Libya's Government of National Unity, Halima Ibrahim, inked the agreement with her Italian counterpart, Carlo Nordio, on the sidelines of the UN Palermo Convention's 20th anniversary against Transnational Organized Crime.

For the treaty to take effect, it requires approval by the Italian Parliament through a specific ratification bill.

The deal stipulates that prisoners can serve their sentences in their country of origin, with each case evaluated individually.

Reports suggest that Italy informed Khalifa Haftar, who is in de facto control of eastern Libya of its intention to release the Libyan football players detained in Italy by the end of 2023. 

However, Nova news agency said it is unlikely that such a step will be taken in light of the lengthy procedures involved in transferring prisoners, and it may not apply to those convicted of crimes against humanity.

The Libyan athletes in question include Alaa Al-Mughrabi, Abdel-Rahman Abdel-Monsef, Tariq Al-Amami (son of a high-ranking officer in Haftar’s forces), and Mohamed Al-Said from Tripoli, who was convicted in Italy on charges of human trafficking by a final ruling confirmed by the Supreme Court.

In September 2020, Haftar announced a possible swap deal to release the Libyan footballers in exchange for 18 fishermen from Mazara del Vallo who had been detained in Benghazi. The fishermen were eventually released after 108 days of captivity.