Italy’s Berlusconi wanted Gaddafi dead – sources tell news agency

The ex-Italian premier was a friend of Mr. Gaddafi.

A former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, wanted to resolve the Libyan civil war in 2011 with a covert operation to kill his friend, Muammar Gaddafi, a high-ranking diplomatic source told dpa.

Gaddafi was executed by insurgents in October 2011, after his convoy was hit by a NATO airstrike.

The military alliance has said it did not deliberately target the leader, but since then there has been much speculation about foreign involvement in the killing.

“We had a prime minister during the Libyan crisis who, speaking about Gaddafi, told secret services: “Why don’t you kill him?” the source, who is close to national security circles, said of Mr. Berlusconi.

The official did not elaborate on the specific request, but explained that intelligence services normally aim to “change things on the ground’’ by “proxy’’ that is, by influencing the behaviour of local actors.

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The Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper carried similar allegations in a front page story.

It interviewed Ignazio La Russa, a defence minister under Mr. Berlusconi, who said: “They would have certainly not told me, but it is possible. Berlusconi was worried about his position because he was seen as too close to the Libyan leader.’’

However, Mr. Berlusconi’s spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti, has denied the report.

“How can it be claimed that President Berlusconi had even thought about such an infamy,’’ he said in a statement.

Before the war, Messrs Berlusconi and Gaddafi nurtured good relations.

In 2008, they signed a controversial friendship agreement, in which Italy promised $5 billion to compensate the North African country for transgressions during three decades of Italian colonial rule during the first half of the 20th century.

In exchange, Mr. Gaddafi pledged to assist Mr. Berlusconi’s conservative government curb migrant flows across the Mediterranean by accepting the immediate deportation to Libya of people intercepted in international waters.

When Mr. Gaddafi died, Mr. Berlusconi commented in Latin, “sic transit Gloria Mundi (thus passes the glory of the world), and noted: “now the war has ended.’’

Gaddafi, who ruled for 42 years, was ousted after eight months of civil war, in one of the Arab Spring uprisings. Nearly 20 months on, Libya has not yet found stability, as the country’s new rulers struggle to assert their authority and re-establish security.


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