Authorities in Niger have confirmed that Al-Saadi Gaddafi, third son of ousted Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, has crossed the border into the country. Alarbiya
reports playboy Saadi has been given leave to stay in Niger on humanitarian grounds, as there is no warrant out for his arrest by the International Criminal Court. He is in a convoy heading to Niamey.
Saadi, age 38, was primarily well known as the playboy ex-professional footballer until the last days of the Gaddafi regime when his name became more prominent. In August as fighting intensified around Tripoli, the rebel National Transitional Council declared that Saadi was one of three of Gaddafi’s sons to have been arrested, a claim that turned out to be false propaganda.
reported that Saadi then sent an email to CNN’s Nic Robertson in an attempt to broker a peace deal
“otherwise Tripoli will be lost forever like Somalia.”
Robertson used Twitter
to send a message which repeated Saadi saying
“I am trying to do something to safe Tripoli…soon it will be sea of blood and dead days everywhere.”
Nothing came of his attempts apart from another propaganda claim by rebel troops. Rebel commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj
claimed that Saadi had contacted him by telephone, offering to surrender and join the rebel troops.
According to the Nation Online
, Belhadj said Saadi
“Asked to be part of the revolution and to get guarantees to come back to his people and to Tripoli.”
However his claims were denied by Saadi who sent a message to CNN stating
“I would rather surrender to a real government than to those people.”
By the end of August the Guardian
reported that Saadi had last been seen in Tripoli four weeks earlier. His daily practice was to visit the nine lions he owned in Tripoli zoo, which he feted with much attention.
The career path of Saadi has been varied. He briefly played professional football for Italy and then for Libya where he ran the Libyan Football Federation. He trained as an engineer and a soldier, and invested heavily in the film industry. He led a fighting unit during the uprising.
Saadi enjoyed an opulent, hedonistic, self indulgent lifestyle. According to the Australian
a friend of Saadi revealed
“You don’t say no to Saadi, he does not take it well.”
He is said to have had a close friend and fellow footballer, Reda Thawargi, imprisoned, when he refused to give in to Saadis’ sexual advances. Thawargi says that at his trial the judge said
"If Saadi says you have done wrong, then you must go to prison."
Together with his brother Hannibal, Saadi took advantage of his father’s power to indulge his every whim, flaunting the worst excesses that a corruption of power can bring.