Interpol wants playboy Saadi Gathafi for ‘football crimes’
LYON (France) - World police body Interpol issued an arrest notice Thursday for fallen Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi's playboy son Saadi for alleged crimes while head of the country's football federation.
The new Libyan authorities requested the notice against Saadi, believed to be in Niger, "for allegedly misappropriating properties through force and armed intimidation when he headed the Libyan Football Federation," Interpol said in a statement.
Saadi, 38, was last seen in Niger and the red notice calls particularly on countries in the region to help locate and arrest him "with a view to returning him to Libya where an arrest warrant for him has been issued," Interpol said.
"As the commander of military units allegedly involved in the repression of demonstrations by civilians during Libya’s uprising, Saadi Gathafi is also subject to a United Nations travel ban and assets freeze," it said.
Interpol said it was the first red notice issued at the request of the National Transitional Council, with previous such notices issued for Gathafi himself and other members of his family at the request of the International Criminal Court.
Niger's government said on September 16 that it would not send Saadi back to Libya, but could hand him over to another jurisdiction.
"With regard to (our) international obligations, we cannot send someone back there where he has no chance of receiving a fair trial and where he could face the death penalty," government spokesman Marou Amadou said.
"On the other hand, if this gentleman or any other person is wanted by an independent court ... which has universal competence over the crimes for which he is pursued, Niger will do its duty," he added.
Saadi, the third of Gathafi's seven sons, renounced a football career in Italy in 2004 to join the army, where he led an elite unit.
He was captain of his national team and president of the Libyan football association and remained a grotesque symbol of ties between Libya and Italian football.
When he was 20, he trained with Italian clubs Juventus and Lazio. He remained a shareholder in Juventus, the legendary club by virtue of being the chairman of Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company, which holds 7.5 percent shares of Juventus which are now frozen.
He also tried to buy Lazio in 2002 after the collapse of Cirio food empire, which owned the club.
Too big, too slow, not strong enough technically, Saadi was not at the level required for the Italian first class division football but was recruited by Perugia in 2003 for marketing reasons.
His first game was a sensation in the media, but he trampled the lawn only once in two seasons (2003-2005).
He had barely kicked a ball when he was suspended by Perugia after testing positive for nandrolone, an anabolic steroid.
Those days he used to stay in a five-star hotel in the centre of the city, occupying an entire floor, with a suite for 20 people.
He made few friends in the Libyan national team either.
"We felt hindered. He was still the son of the head of the state. He was not on equal footing," goalkeeper Samir Abboud recalls, affirming that Saadi could not even pass a ball.