Saadi Gaddafi's passion for football was once regarded merely as a joke. But it will be paraded in evidence against the dictator's son as the trial against him and his brother continues.

As the full details of the strange, frequently violent crimes of Saadi and his elder brother, Saif al-Islam, are presented to the trial, the case against the former Libyan international striker will revolve around his connections to the game.

Saadi took over Tripoli's leading club, Al-Ahli and appointed himself national team captain. He bought his way into Italy's Serie A by virtue of a Libyan stake in Juventus, and played a single game for Perugia then another for Udinese.

He was banned for failing a drugs test, but his two appearances were enough for him to be labelled the worst player to appear in the league.


After the fall of his father's regime, investigations by the revolutionary authorities, Libyan journalists and the Telegraph uncovered a list of extraordinary incidents with which he was associated.

At the end of the 1996 cup final, troops appeared on the pitch as fans celebrated, and fired into the crowd.

Witnesses said that Saadi had been present, standing behind the red-capped soldiers.

Al-Ahli had won 1-0, and the common view was that he thought the crowd were jeering as a sign of opposition. "Nobody was booing, they were just celebrating," said Musbah Shengab, Al-Ahli's goalkeeper. "I lay on the pitch as the bullets went overhead."

Twenty people died.

Saadi escaped to Niger after the fall of his father's regime in 2011 but was extradited in March.

Also on trial is Saif al-Islam, who was caught escaping across the Sahara in November 2011, a month after his father's death, and Abdullah Senussi, Colonel Gaddafi's brother-in-law and security chief, accused of overseeing the prison massacre.

Senussi's son Mohammed was implicated with Saadi in one of the charge sheet's most inexplicable crimes: the disappearance in 2006 of Bashir al-Riani, once Libya's most celebrated striker and later a commentator.

After Tripoli fell, The Daily Telegraph found Riani's wife, Hamid Bin Mansour, who described her husband's final days. He had been taken up as a mascot by Saadi, until he tried to extricate himself from the relationship, alarmed by the heavy partying and threats of violence.

One day, a car arrived to "take him to dinner". A few days later, his son and brother-in-law found his body at the Tripoli Medical Centre. A policeman said it had been picked up from Saadi's beachside villa. In the years since, they learnt that the fatal blow was struck by Mohammed Senussi.

Saadi also flew women into Tripoli from around Europe, although another Al-Ahli footballer, Reda Thawargi, alleged he was jailed for refusing his homosexual advances.

In contrast to the more lurid allegations, the most important charges againstthe brothers will be mundane by comparison. are accused of issuing orders for the crackdown that led to the 2011 uprising against their father's rule.

In Libya's uncertain political environment, no one can predict whether the trial will be fair.

The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for Saif, though not Saadi.