Kiwi ex-soldiers protecting Gaddafi's son
Former New Zealand special forces soldiers helped protect Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's son Saadi flee Libya as Tripoli was falling to anti-Gaddafi rebels, a former Australian soldier has told Canada's National Post.
Gary Peters, president of Can/Aus Security & Investigations International Inc, was Saadi Gaddafi's long-time bodyguard and admitted he was part of a team that drove the late dictator's third son across Libya's southern border to Niger.
The team came from Australia, New Zealand, Iraq and Russia, and were all former special forces' members, he said.
They had planned to take Saadi out of the country on a day they had heard the Niger border would not be patrolled, but they could not wait, he said.
The convoy was ambushed after it had crossed back into Libya and Peters was shot. He returned to Canada last month, bleeding heavily from an untreated bullet wound to his left shoulder.
Peters said he had been providing security to members of the Gaddafi family since 2004 and had continued to do so throughout the Nato campaign against the dictator.
He worked mostly for Saadi but said he had also briefly guarded Colonel Gaddafi's sons Saif al-Islam and Hannibal.
Before helping Saadi flee to Niger, Peters told the National Post he had escorted Hannibal and Colonel Gaddafi's daughter Ayesha from Libya to Algeria in a convoy.
"I'm not a mercenary," he said.
"I work for a person in particular, have done for years, for close protection. When we go overseas, I don't fight. That's what a mercenary does. Defend? Yes. Shoot? Yes. But for defence, for my boss, and that's what happened. The convoy got attacked and two of us got hit."
Anti-Gaddafi rebels have long alleged the dictator was being propped up by mercenaries, mostly from neighbouring African countries as well as Eastern Europe.
Peters said Saadi was a non-violent gentleman.
While Gaddafi was "very intimidating" and "very hostile," Saadi was a "very nice man, very educated, very nice guy. However don't piss them off, very revengeful people."
Peters said he was serving in Australian Army when he first met Saadi at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
His website said he has worked as a private investigator and close protection officer in Canada, the US and Middle East.
Peters told the National Post the fight for Libya was not over as Saadi was now living in Niger.
"People say, 'Oh, it's going to settle down, everyone's got to pull out.' Don't believe it's going to settle down because there are still three brothers there that are very, very angry. And three brothers that have a lot of money.
"And they've still got that money. We just purchased, brand-new, three Land Rovers, bullet-proof. We paid cash for it. That means there's money around."
- An earlier version of this story included a photo caption that referred to Gary Peters as an ex-SAS soldier.
- © Fairfax NZ News