Documents found in the British embassy in Tripoli and seen by The Sunday Telegraph show that Hana Gaddafi, supposedly killed 25 years ago, was actually granted a two-year visa to come to Britain as recently as October last year. The UK even paid her application fee.
For the relatives of the Lockerbie victims it is a terrible betrayal. Gaddafi had used Hana’s alleged death, aged 18 months, as a propaganda coup and to suggest to the British families that he too had suffered as they had.
Dr Jim Swire, whose 24-year-old daughter Flora was blown up on Pan Am flight 103, was even shown — by Gaddafi himself — a photograph of Hana, covered in blood and on the verge of death, lying on a hospital trolley. That meeting took place in Tripoli 20 years ago and had a profound effect on Dr Swire and his attitude towards the Libyan dictator.
That the British Government never bothered to inform Dr Swire and the other Lockerbie relatives what really happened to Hana has simply added to the sense of betrayal.
“If the Government knew the story about Hana was phoney then it makes me angry,” said Dr Swire. “The Foreign Office has always kept me in the dark. In an ideal world the CIA and the people from MI6 should have sat down with relatives and said 'we cannot make this public, but this is what really happened’. But nothing of that sort ever happened. That is a source of considerable anger for me.”
Dr Swire flew to Tripoli in 1991 to persuade Gaddafi to hand over Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for trial for the Lockerbie bombing – still the biggest single terrorist atrocity committed in the UK. Dr Swire, incidentally, no longer believes al-Megrahi is guilty and is convinced of his innocence.
“It may well be Gaddafi was lying when he talked to me about Hana. The fable I was asked to believe was she was killed not outright but that she died of shrapnel injuries. I have no idea if it was true or false,” said Dr Swire.
He had even taken with him on the trip a photograph of Flora at 18 months – the same age as Hana when she was purportedly killed – as a kind of emotional leverage in his appeal to Gaddafi to hand over Megrahi.
With the photograph of Flora, he gave Gaddafi an inscription in English and Arabic which read: “The consequence of the use of violence is the death of innocent people” which was placed on a wall beside a photograph of Hana in what was said to be Hana’s bedroom.
The inscription was still there when Dr Swire revisited Libya last year, though the picture of Hana had been replaced by one of Gaddafi’s mother.
Pam Dix, whose brother died on the Pan Am flight, said: “If the British authorities knew Hana had not been killed it is yet another example of them creating a story to suit themselves. For some unknown reason they decided to allow this mystery to continue. Why was this kept a secret?
“The whole thing smells badly of a cover-up. It is deeply hurtful. The British Government has been buying into Gaddafi’s deceit.”
The emails seen by The Sunday Telegraph detail a visa application on behalf of Hana and Gaddafi’s wife – described in the correspondence as the First Lady – but thought to be his second wife Safia Farkash, his former nurse. Requests were also made five cousins, a family doctor and an Indonesian maid.
The emails were sent between the UK Border Agency and the British embassy in Tripoli on Oct 3 and Oct 5 last year. Hana Gaddafi is described as a daughter of the Libyan leader – and that her visa should be given “gratis”.
Another email stated: “The embassy will pay for two-year visas for Hana and the five cousins but the doctor and maid will be covered by protocol, they will pay for six-month visas.” A subsequent email suggested the “domestic worker” be treated as an “exempt application as part of the Leader’s household”.
It is not clear if Hana Gaddafi ever came to the UK. The Foreign Office and the UK Border Agency said they could not comment on individuals and their whereabouts.
A Foreign Office spokesman said yesterday: “There was no evidence to suggest Hana Gaddafi had not been killed and that the Hana Gaddafi in Tripoli was anything other than a different person. Gaddafi adopted many children and Hana was a common name.”
Dissidents in Libya had maintained for some time that Hana’s reported death was a fabrication. A source at the Libyan embassy in London told The Sunday Telegraph there was only ever one Hana Gaddafi, who is alive and well.
The first inkling that Hana Gaddafi did not die in 1986 came earlier this year, when documents in connection with the seizure of Gaddafi family assets in Switzerland pointed to her existence. The Daily Telegraph found records in the Libyan embassy in London showing a British dentist had been flown to Tripoli in 2008 to treat Hana. A medical certificate in her name was found in the Gaddafi compound after the fall of Tripoli.
And last week, film footage of Hana was found in Libya. The film was made about three years after the American air raid. In the video other members of her family can be heard calling her name.
Hana Gaddafi’s whereabouts are still unclear. It is thought she may be in Algeria with other members of the Gaddafi family.
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
British Government knew Hana Gaddafi was still alive
The Daily Telegraph reports: