The glamour model ex-girlfriend of Colonel Gaddafi’s playboy son has told of the terrifying moment she was captured by rebels who threatened to ‘burn her alive’.
Talitha van Zon had been with Mutassim Gaddafi just over a week ago as he calmly drank Jack Daniels whisky and coke as he toasted a victory over the rebels.
But the next day the rebels backed by Nato airstrikes launched a surprise attack on Tripoli and Mutassim joined fighters.
Talitha was ambushed as she tried to leave the country was forced to turn back and take refuge at a hotel.
But the Dutch model was then paraded in front of rebel fighters who chanted ‘petrol’. She feared they would ‘burn her alive’ and then made a desperate escape by leaping from the hotel’s balcony.
‘I was shocked when I met Mutassim. He had changed,’ Talitha told the Sunday Telegraph this week from the hospital where she was being treated for her injuries.
‘It was the first time I had seen him since just before the February uprising. He had a beard, he was sitting on a couch strewn with automatic weapons, and he was guarded by unsmiling 16-year-old boys with sub-machine guns.’
Talitha said that on her latest visit to Libya, Mutassim’s eyes were ‘cold’. She said he looked capable of ‘killing someone ‘.
The image of Mutassim sitting beneath a portrait of his father and plotting the war against rebels was a far cry from the fun-loving playboy she had been in a relationship with in 2004.
Their romance had only lasted three months, as Talitha claims that there were ‘other women’ in Mutassim’s life, but the pair remained close friends.
The former Playboy centrefold was drawn into the world of luxury that the Gaddafi clan enjoyed and showered with gifts.
She recalls how she was flown around the world. In Monaco Talitha said she was taken to the Grand Prix and a dinner party attended by Princess Caroline. While at Christmas she enjoyed holidays on the Caribbean island of Saint Barts after being flown their on a private Boeing.
According to Talitha, when Mutassim was in Paris or London he would book several floors of the most expensive hotels and fill them with friends and Italian hairdressers would be flown in from from around the world.
‘I asked him once how much he spent, and he took a minute to add it up in his head. He said ”about $2 million”. I said ”you mean a year?” He said ”no – a month”.’
The gifts that the Arab leader’s son showered Talitha with included a collection of Louis Vuitton bags and an expensive watch.
But throughout their relationship, Talitha said that she remained in a ‘gilded cage’ and had little idea about the lives of Libyans who seemed ‘happy enough’.ordinary
Talitha was never allowed to meet Gaddafi himself and never questioned having an intimate friendship with the son of a tyrant.
She visited Tripoli and stayed in Mutassim’s beach houses, his country estates and villas, which were furnished with gaudy gold fittings and lavish chandeliers.
Talitha said that Mutassim denied that the Libyan people were suppressed. They had free hospital care and schools, and cheap bread and rice, he is said to have told her.
But beneath the playboy’s fun-loving exterior was a sinsiter side she witnessed when he launched a scathing attack on a servant who delivered a cold mean and the forced him to sit in the corner and eat it all.
She said that Mutassim idolised leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro and longed for that kind of success. Instead, he spent his life in the shadow of his older brother, Saif, who many considered to be Gaddafi’s heir.
Mutassim is believed to have once tried to overthrow his father but was exiled when he failed. He was given a role as a national security advisor but has been described by officials as ‘not intellectually curious’.
Talitha said that he confirmed to her Libya’s role in Lockerbie bombers which appear to have been done for revenge.
She said: ‘I told him the victims were civilians, not military, and he said ”Talitha, the Americans attacked our house in Libya and my father lost one child (a reference to the US bombing of Tripoli in 1986).” He was quite open about the Libyans doing it for revenge.’
Talitha’s last meeting with Mutassim was on the Friday before rebels attacked Tripoli. He left her to fight for his father and she left the country on a humanitarian ship to Malta on Friday.
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