Gaddafi's son under 'house arrest' in luxury complex
American diplomats announced that Saadi Gaddafi, the third son of Libya's deposed leader, had finally been brought to heel yesterday, claiming he had been placed under virtual "house arrest" after fleeing to Niger.
He has been tracked down to the country's capital of Niamey. However, it is clear that Saadi's surroundings bear closer resemblance to a playboy hideaway than a prison.
After being flown to the capital on a military Hercules C-130 transport plane late on Monday, the former footballer was given luxurious lodgings in Villa Verde, a state guesthouse next to the presidential palace. The complex is now his well- guarded refuge of calm from the war which still wages in his homeland.
He joined a clique of Libyan generals in the city. Among them are Ali Sharif al-Rifi, Libya's former air force chief, and Mansour Dao, its security chief, who are ensconced in the nearby Villa du Conseil de l'Entente, a high-walled hillside complex of bungalows boasting cool verandas and handsome administration buildings.
Soldiers in combat fatigues, drenched in sweat but solidly clutching assault rifles across their chests, were guarding the gates. To Libyan rebels and their western backers Saadi and the Gaddafi loyalists are on the run from justice.
"Our understanding is, like the others, he's being detained in a state guest house," Victoria Nuland, the US State Department spokeswoman said of Gaddafi's son yesterday.
"It's essentially a house arrest in this government facility, is our understanding."
However, that claim does not quite seem to accord with the reality of Saadi Gaddafi's accommodation on the fringes of the plushest and most affluent district of Niger's capital.
Mounkaila Saidou, a relatively wealthy man, owes the success of his market gardening business to Muammar Gaddafi's investment in the country and he was among those yesterday to welcome the deposed dictator's henchmen.
"We have all this because of Gaddafi. He built the wells and the irrigation pumps all along the river," the elderly manager said.
"Our co-operative would not exist without him. In the last three years he has met all our costs. He's done more for us than our own government or foreigners.
"Why shouldn't his officials come here when their country is in danger."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)