World police body Interpol yesterday issued an arrest notice for fallen Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s playboy son Al-Saadi for alleged crimes while head of the country’s soccer federation.
The new Libyan authorities requested the notice against Al-Saadi, believed to be in Niger, “for allegedly misappropriating properties through force and armed intimidation when he headed the Libyan Football [soccer] Federation,” Interpol said in a statement.
Al-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, Al-Saadi Kadhafi [Qaddafi] 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 Libyan’s National Transitional Council, with previous such notices issued for Qaddafi himself and other members of his family at the request of the International Criminal Court.
Niger’s government said on Sept. 16 that it would not send Al-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.
Al-Saadi, the third of Qaddafi’s seven sons, renounced a soccer 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 soccer association and remained a grotesque symbol of ties between Libyan and Italian soccer.
When he was 20, he trained with Italian clubs Juventus and Lazio. He remained a shareholder in Juventus, by virtue of being the chairman of Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Co, which holds 7.5 percent shares of Juventus that 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, Al-Saadi was not at the level required for the Italian first-division soccer, 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 center 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 Al-Saadi could not even pass a ball.