The Independent (UK)
Gaddafi son sparks crisis with arrest at Swiss hotel
By Peter Popham
Diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Libya were in crisis yesterday after Libya vowed "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" in retaliation for the Swiss authorities putting Hannibal, the youngest son of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, in jail for two days.
Libya announced it would halt fuel supplies to Switzerland and bar the country's ships from its ports in protest at what it called the "fabricated" and "illegitimate" charges against one of Col Gaddafi's seven sons.
Hannibal Gaddafi, 30, who has a record of run-ins with police across Europe, was arrested and jailed on 15 July after staff at the luxury Geneva hotel where he was staying alerted police to violent rows in his suite. Mr Gaddafi and his wife, Aline, who is nine months' pregnant, were arrested and charged with maltreating their domestic staff. He was held in custody and later released on bail; she was taken to hospital when she complained of feeling unwell.
Tripoli reacted furiously, with Mr Gaddafi's sister, Aisha, saying that Libya would respond on the basis of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth".
The Swiss Foreign Ministry said the Libyan government has already taken action, suspending the issuing of visas for Swiss nationals and forcing Libyan branches of Swiss companies, including Nestlé, to close. Two Swiss nationals have also been arrested on various charges – Switzerland describes them as "hostages" – and Libya has cut back flights between Tripoli and Switzerland.
The Swiss said they had sent a delegation to Tripoli to explain the measures taken against Hannibal Gaddafi, "to prevent a crisis between the two countries". But clearly the crisis is already under way.
The Revolutionary Committees Movement said that if an apology was not forthcoming from the Swiss, diplomatic relations between the two countries should be cut. It also recommended "expelling Swiss companies working in Libya ... withdrawing Libyan deposits in Swiss banks and stopping airline flights between Libya and Switzerland".
Announcing the halt to oil exports, the head of Libya's General National Maritime Transportation Company said it was the "least they could do". Switzerland gets more than 50 per cent of its crude oil from Libya, but the Swiss Petroleum Association said it could cope with any interruption in deliveries. For the past two days, several hundred demonstrators have been gathering outside the Swiss embassy in Tripoli, carrying placards with photos of a beaming Col Gaddafi and his turbulent son and distributing flyers calling for an official apology to all the Libyan people.
In Geneva, the head of the canton government, Laurent Moutintot, denied Mr Gaddafi had been mistreated. "No force was used against the Gaddafi couple," he said. "The reputation of Switzerland as a country of human rights demanded that the police intervene."
Hannibal Gaddafi has a reputation as a hell-raiser, who has repeatedly shown a willingness to break the law and then invoke diplomatic immunity.
His first clash with European authority came in 2001. Returning to the Hilton Hotel in Rome at 3am he got into a brawl with police guarding his room, attacking them with bottles, emptying a fire extinguisher over them and putting three in hospital. He pleaded diplomatic immunity and no action was taken.
Three years later, while a business studies student in Copenhagen, he was chased by police when he drove his Porsche at 90mph through red lights on the Champs-Elysée in Paris, at one point going the wrong way. After police pulled him over they were confronted by his six bodyguards and a fight broke out in which an officer was injured.
The following February Mr Gaddafi was arrested in Paris after allegedly beating up a female companion who had resisted his advances, and damaging the door to her room. Later he changed rooms and was said to have begun destroying furniture before pulling a 9mm Walter PKK semi-automatic handgun on security guards at the Intercontinental Hotel. They succeeded in subduing him. Police questioned but did not detain him and he returned to Copenhagen soon afterwards.
France lodged an official complaint with the Libyan authorities and three months later he was convicted in absentia of "voluntary violence against a vulnerable person, namely his pregnant companion, which caused her total inability to work for at least eight days". He was given a four-month suspended prison sentence and a €500 fine.
The seven sons (and daughter)
Most prominent of the Gaddafi children is second son Saif al-Islam, born in 1972, a graduate of the London School of Economics and head of the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations. Often seen as the son being groomed to take over power from his father, he has been behind the opening-up of his notoriously closed country to foreign investment. Jumping on the eco-tourism bandwagon, he flew in a bevy of international journalists and investors to the Mediterranean coast last year, just to announce his commitment to all things green. Described by some as a reforming figure, he is the most internationally presentable of the possible heirs to Gaddafi's power monopoly.
The Colonel's first-born, Muhammad, heads the Libyan Olympic Committee. In September 2006, after Pope Benedict XVI infuriated devout Muslims by apparently attacking their religion in a speech in Germany, Muhammad was reported by a Saudi newspaper as saying that the only solution for the Pope was to immediately convert to Islam.
The third son, Al-Saadi, is a former professional footballer. After playing for a Tripoli team he moved to Italy, signing successively for Perugia (2003-05), Udinese (2005-06) and Sampdoria (2006-07) but in all that time he made a total of only two appearances. He was sacked by Perugia after failing a drug test. He has made dovish pronouncements about Israel, but denies strongly that he is in line to take over from his father. He has also produced films, and made a fortune from Libya's oil industry.
Mutasim-Billah, the fourth brother, fled to Egypt after reportedly being the inspiration for a failed coup against his father. Muammar forgave him and he returned to Libya where he is now national security adviser, commanding his own unit in the army. He is widely seen as the rival of Saif to take over from their father.
Gaddafi's only daughter is Aisha, a lawyer who was part of the defence team of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. She has come out in defence of her brother Hannibal in his latest troubles. Gaddafi also had an adopted daughter, Hanna, who was killed in the 1986 bombing raid by the US that destroyed his home.
Apart from Hannibal, little is known about Gaddafi's other youngest sons, Saif Al Arab and Khamis.
Wall Street Journal
Dividing up the islands based on race.
As farewell presents go, few lawmakers get to redistribute an entire state's wealth based on race. That was the send-off for Representative Neil Abercrombie, who is retiring this week to run for Governor of Hawaii. For his campaign literature, he'll take the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, which was whooped through the House on Tuesday 245-164.
The bill would create a sovereign tribal entity made up of some 400,000 Hawaiians. Supposedly designed to mimic the legal structure created for Native Americans, the bill breaks new ground—requiring the federal government to create a tribe based on a loosely defined racial identification. Not yet scheduled for a vote in the Senate, the bill may face opposition from Republicans, including a filibuster. South Carolina's Jim DeMint says he'll use "all the tools possible" to prevent the bill from becoming law, and we hope he does.
This wasn't the law's first trip around the Hill, though it was the most outrageous. The version passed Tuesday includes last-minute changes by Mr. Abercrombie to evade normal legislative vetting. In a letter to House leaders, five members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights expressed their "profound disappointment" at a bill that was "negotiated behind closed doors" and "released less than 48 hours prior to the expected House vote."
And no wonder. While land transfers will still need to be negotiated with the state, the bill could affect public land covering 38% of Hawaii. The new tribe would be immediately vested with such "inherent powers" as sovereign immunity, the right to regulate its members and to be released from various state taxes and regulations. That's a departure from the original plan, which required consultation with the state government and Congress on tribal powers.
The changes are so egregious that even Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, who had been an ardent supporter, withdrew her approval. "This structure will, in my opinion, promote divisiveness and litigation, rather than negotiation and resolution," Governor Lingle wrote.
In an effort to dispel concerns that the creation of a race-based tribe violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, Mr. Abercrombie added a six-page list of membership criteria that could include non-Hawaiian state residents. But the provision contains a self-destruct clause—as soon as the tribe is officially recognized, it can extend and deny membership based on any criteria it sees fit. And if this runs into legal trouble, the legislation requires the Justice Department to designate an attorney to fight all challengers to the new tribe.
Many Hawaiians support some legal recognition for the state's native residents, but the separatism being pushed by Democrats is far less popular. Under the House's hodgepodge, nonnative citizens may face higher taxes to pay for the new tribal entity and cope with the loss of state revenue on land ceded to the new native nation.
President Obama has said he'll sign the bill if it gets to his desk, but the Supreme Court has already rejected attempts to hold elections based on race. Hawaii has a rich and diverse cultural history, and the Senate should reject this attempt to segregate the state by legislative sleight of hand.