Sunday 21 January 2018

Tribesman said 'no' to €1m bribe in Saif handover

Tour guide is now a Libyan hero

Richard Spencer in Zintan and Ruth Sherlock in Tripoli

The village tribesman who turned in Saif Gaddafi (pictured right) after being offered €1m to drive him to the Libyan border, was revealed yesterday.

He was feted as a hero a short distance from where his captive was being held prisoner.

Yusef Saleh al-Hotmani, from Berqan, deep in the Sahara, said he had been offered the money to drive Saif Gaddafi and four companions to the border with Algeria and Niger.

From there, Saif Gaddafi was due to be picked up and driven into exile, "to return later and claim his country", his men told the guide.

In fact, Mr al-Hotmani headed for a hollow in the sand dunes, where men from the Zintan Brigade were waiting.

"I thank Allah who made it possible for me to conquer this enemy," Mr al-Hotmani, his face swathed in the desert's black headscarf and a new national flag draped round his shoulders, said.

"I was offered millions but all the money they had would not buy a pebble of our sand or one drop of our martyrs' blood."

He said he had already received death threats from pro-Gaddafi supporters.

Saif Gaddafi was seized at 1.30am last Saturday morning, by 14 Zintan men.

He is now being held in a secret location in Zintan. In a sign of the sway the town has now won, the brigade's head, Osama Jueili, was named defence minister in Libya's new interim government yesterday.

Mr Jueili denied he had been offered the job in return for handing over Saif Gaddafi to central government control. He had first discussed his promotion with Abdulrahim al-Keib, the interim prime minister, 12 days ago, he said.

"If they offered us a post just for this I would consider it an act of condescension. There is no benefit to Zintan to get the post of minister of defence."

Mr Jueili also confirmed that two Red Cross representatives visited Saif Gaddafi yesterday afternoon.

An ICRC spokesman, Soaade Messoudi, said the meeting happened with no guards present and that he seemed to be in good health. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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