September 7, 2012 in Nation/World

Israeli rallies support for jailed Gadhafi son

Seif al-Islam caring, ex-girlfriend says
Chrisopher Slaney Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Israeli Orly Weinerman is calling on Libyan authorities to release Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, saying he had nothing to do with his father’s crackdown on rebels.
(Full-size photo)

TEL AVIV, Israel – An imprisoned son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is getting help from an unlikely source: an Israeli actress and model who says she had a romantic relationship with him.

Orly Weinerman is rallying support for a petition drive calling on Libyan authorities to release Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, saying he is a generous and caring person who has been abandoned by the international community and deserves a fair trial outside Libya.

Weinerman’s campaign is remarkable both because of the serious allegations against Seif al-Islam – he faces murder charges inside Libya and an international war crimes indictment – and the taboo nature of their relationship. Moammar Gadhafi, who was killed by rebels last October, was a staunch opponent of Israel, and contacts between citizens of the two countries, much less romances, are extremely rare.

In an interview, Weinerman described Seif al-Islam as “very calm and quiet, polite, a real gentleman.” She said she was introduced to him by mutual friends in London in 2005, and that their relationship was romantic. She would not elaborate.

“He has a great sense of humor and we always had laughs together,” she said.

She said she has never visited Libya but has met other members of the Gadhafi family. She did not provide names and declined to show the Associated Press any photos, correspondence or other mementos from their time together.

Weinerman’s purported romance with Gadhafi first appeared in European tabloids in 2006. But only this month did she go public, hoping to draw attention to his plight.

She said that Seif al-Islam was a moderating influence on his father, and that he introduced “some reforms to Libya and he wanted to bring so many more.”

“He challenged his father’s regime,” she said.

Seif al-Islam, 40, was arrested by Libyan rebels last November, weeks after they captured and killed his father. Held in a Libyan jail, the younger Gadhafi is now caught in a legal tug of war.

The International Criminal Court wants him in the dock in the Hague on charges of crimes against humanity for alleged involvement in attacks on civilians during the uprising against his father. Libyan authorities say they will try him for torturing and killing rebels and have refused to hand him over to ICC representatives. His international defense team has said there is no way he can receive a fair trial in Libya. The ICC refused to comment on Weinerman’s efforts.

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