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Qaddafi's brutal family

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Reporters, rebels, and the idly curious have spent much of the past week combing through the chintz and excess of the Qaddafi family homes in and around Tripoli, ogling thousand-dollar cases of champagne, making off with trinkets as souvenirs, and talking to the friends and survivors of a family whose whims have been law in Libya for over four decades.

That evidence of horrible atrocities have been found in Tripoli are hardly surprising. Qaddafi's rule has been punctuated with massacres to "encourage the others" from time to time, most famously the Abu Salim prison massacre in 1996, in which over 1,000 political prisoners were shot dead in a courtyard at the prison. Reporting from Tripoli, Gert van Langendonck saw evidence of the execution of 53 prisoners by troops loyal to Qaddafi's son Khamis Qaddafi as they retreated from the city over a week ago.

But among the evidence of mass killings and torture chambers being unearthed, is also evidence of a banal daily cruelty around Qaddafi's children, practiced for no other reason, it seems, than that perpetrators could get away with it. From accounts pouring out of Tripoli, some of his children come off as far nastier – indeed, stranger – than their father.

Take Muttasim Qaddafi, who invited his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Dutch Playboy centerfold Talitha van Zohn, to visit his beachside villa in Tripoli and party with him between breaks in the battle for Libya. Ms. Van Zohn, who arrived in Libya in early August, had leaped from a hotel balcony, convinced by Mutassim and his cronies that rebels would burn her alive if they caught her. The Telegraph caught up with her at a local hospital.

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