Italy seizes Gaddafi assets worth more than £1bn

Milan

Italian police yesterday seized asssets worth €1.1bn from the family of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, on the request of the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Most the wealth was in the form of shareholdings, including stakes in Italian bank Unicredit, the Juventus football team and the energy giant Eni.

Colonel Gavino Putzu, of Rome's finance police said the assets also included a Rome apartment, 150 acres of land on the Sicilian island of Pantelleria and two motorcycles, including a Harley Davison.

"The assets will be administered by a special commissioner to be appointed by a Rome court," Mr Putzu said. "All the companies involved have been notified."

Some of the assets had already been frozen last year to comply with UN resolutions when Gaddafi's forces were attacking civilians in Libya.

Italy , Libya's former colonial ruler, had been Gaddafi's closest European ally, with the dictator making several flamboyant visits to Rome to revel in his country's status as oil producer and apparently rub his formers ruler's nose in it.

But pressure from the US government saw the administration of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi abruptly switch sides last April soon after the start of the Nato bombing campaign.

Rome has since rebuilt strong business ties with Tripoli's new rulers, and Eni remains the biggest foreign oil producer in Libya.

Yesterday afternoon's seizure was ordered by the Rome's Appeals Court after the International Court made the request as part of its proceedings against Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, and his intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi. The Hague court hopes the funds may be used to compensate victims of the Gaddafi regime.

The ICC indicted Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi's one-time heir apparent, in June 2011 for crimes against humanity during a crackdown he oversaw on the Libyan rebels.

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