Abandoned Gaddafi homes reveal champagne lifestyle

Wed Aug 31, 2011 3:13pm EDT
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By Samia Nakhoul

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The gold-plated cutlery and crystal champagne glasses, the Versace and Armani suits and rows of unworn designer shoes, are all that remain at the luxurious seaside compounds of the children of Muammar Gaddafi.

The fancy beach villas are testimony to the fact that the Gaddafis not only ruled Libya, they owned it, and treated its oil wealth as their personal patrimony.

Yet the cars now parked outside these gilded villas are no longer fleets of limousines, but the motley collection of jeeps and machine-gun mounted pick-up trucks belonging to the rag-tag army of civilians who rose up and overthrew the Gaddafis.

And it is those fighters who now sleep inside the Italian-designed bedrooms with their Pierre Cardin carpets and Burberry couches, resting at the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan.

"The day that we have been dreaming of all our lifetime has come. This beach was reserved for Gaddafi sons, their families, friends and the ruling elite," said Kabet, a legal adviser at the economic council of Libya before joining the revolution in February.

"They are the ones who enjoyed the wealth of Libya not us. The Libyans got nothing out of it," he said.

"Libyans could never swim here or get near these gates. The fate of anybody who dares get close to these walls was known, he will be shot dead," Kabet said.

For nearly all of them the Eid al-Fitr at the end of the month of fasting will be their first without Gaddafi, whose 42 years in power have conditioned their lives.   Continued...

<p>A boy jumps into a swimming pool at Aisha Gaddafi's compound in Bin Ashour district in Tripoli, August 26, 2011. Aisha Gaddafi is the daughter of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal</p>