Pythons, parties and offshore accounts: Life among Libya's elite

Hannibal Gaddafi's abandoned laptop contains snapshots of the dictator's playboy son and his entourage

Libya's rebels were yet to make the military breakthrough which would see his father swept from power but Hannibal al-Gaddafi was taking the precaution of reviewing his finances. There was a bank transfer for $14,999,920.82 (about £9.5m), another of $6,439,201.76, and a third, more modest one of $3,233,434.10. He was, one could assume, reassured about having enough put away for rainy days ahead.

The documents, with details of accounts in Paris, Panama and Tunis, were found by The Independent on a laptop belonging to the fourth son of Muammar Gaddafi, abandoned as he fled with his family from his mansion in Tripoli. The papers show the sheer extent of wealth Hannibal Gaddafi had accrued while working as a "consultant" to Libya's national shipping corporation. Many of the transactions involve Amen Bank and the North African International Bank, both based in the Tunisian capital, and the company Indotex SA based in Panama. Others go through a myriad of institutions before ending up at accounts at tax havens.

Hannibal Gaddafi, his wife Aline Skaf, a former model from Lebanon, and their two children have sought refuge in neighbouring Algeria along with other members of the Gaddafi family. The new Libyan government has demanded that Algiers send them back to face charges, including theft of state assets.

Yesterday, at a press conference in the capital, flanked by David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, the head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, declared: "citizens of this country earned on average $300 a month. We have asked foreign countries to give us details of money being held there by Libyans so that we can get it back."

Along with his business files, 36-year-old Hannibal Gaddafi kept dozens of photographs of his wife, parents and siblings. Many are taken at the city zoo, which Hannibal and his brother Saadi regularly visited. He was also fond of being photographed with a python which he had borrowed for a while from the zoo. There are images of his wife, scantily dressed, looking nervous, with the snake draped around her.

Hannibal's opulent home was among those raided by local people and revolutionaries after the fall of Tripoli. Young fighters wandered around the villa or lounged on the Italian sofas. Empty bottles of Dom Perignon and Johnny Walker Black Label whiskey lay scattered on cracked glass tabletops.

The photographs detail Hannibal Gaddafi's lavish lifestyle, sailing on one of his yachts and getting ready for flights on a private Gulfstream jet, and the phalanx of staff to look after the family, including one of Shweyga Mullah, an Ethiopian nanny who has later discovered severely burned, the result, she said, of having boiling water poured over her by Aline Skaf for failing to keep the children quiet.

This was just one of several occasions that Hannibal Gaddafi and his wife had been accused of assaulting those who worked for them. In 2008 they were arrested in Geneva on charges of "bodily harm, threatening behaviour and coercion" against two members of staff. Gaddafi's regime retaliated by imprisoning two Swiss businessmen and cancelling contracts with Swiss firms.

The following year police in London were called to Claridge's Hotel in the early hours of Christmas morning after the management were alarmed at the sound of a woman screaming. Aline Skaf was discovered bleeding heavily and taken by ambulance to hospital where she was treated for facial injuries. Soon afterwards Hannibal Gaddafi threw a party for his wife in New York where the cabaret was provided by Beyoncé.

Some of the pictures on the laptop were taken at another party, in Cairo, with belly dancers and a well known Egyptian singer providing the entertainment. Aline Skaf sits arms entwined with her husband, with a bruise on her face.

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