Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ex-Colonel for Gaddafi Disappears From Paris Hospital

One of Gaddafi's ex-colonels disappears from Paris hospital

12:06pm EDT
By Alexandria Sage

PARIS (Reuters) - A retired air force colonel who served under the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has disappeared from a Paris military hospital and relatives fear he may have been abducted or worse, a lawyer for the family said on Thursday.

Police are searching for Abdusalam Aboudajaja, 68, who vanished from the Val-de-Grace hospital on August 6 wearing his hospital pyjamas, lawyer Francois Gibault told Reuters.

"It's very odd," Gibault said. "We fear the worst. He could be lost, he could have been taken, or killed, we have no information. He doesn't speak French, he doesn't have any money and he doesn't have a credit card."

An appeal for witnesses has been launched, he added.

Since the toppling of Gaddafi, Libya's government has struggled to control armed groups inside the country who have often taken the law into their own hands and families of former Gaddafi loyalists have expressed concern about the safety of their relatives outside of Libya as well.

Aboudajaja was in France with his wife and son undergoing medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment on a trip authorized by Libya's new government.

But while in France he suffered brain damage and was transferred in July to the military hospital, Gibault said.

Aboudajaja's son told the daily Liberation newspaper that his father had served for thirty years in the air force of Gaddafi, who was killed last October during a NATO-backed rebel uprising.

Aboudajaja, who retired in 1998, transported military cargo such as "suitcases of banknotes and atomic things, radioactive material for the nuclear industry" to countries such as Iran, Chad, Rwanda, Nicaragua, Lebanon and Syria, his son told the newspaper.

A relative of Aboudajaja said the hospital had at first said it had no trace of him leaving the premises but had later shown him CCTV footage of him walking out of a main door alone dressed in his pyjama top and beige trousers.

Val-de-Grace, which refused to comment on the matter, first told his family that the patient was in a radiology session when they discovered his room empty on August 6, Gibault said.

Gibault said he had not been allowed to view the hospital's file on the incident.

Police did not immediately return a call seeking further details.

Last month, officials in Vienna ruled out foul play in the drowning death of Gaddafi's former oil chief, Shokri Ghanem, whose family had accused enemies of killing him because he knew too much.

(Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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