SaturdaysonCNN INTERNATIONAL630, 1030, 1430 GMT730, 1130, 1530 CET
August 29th, 2011
06:17 PM ET

Luxury, horror lurk in Gadhafi family compound

by Dan Rivers, CNN Correspondent

Moammar Gadhafi told his people he lived modestly during his nearly 42-year rule over Libya, often sleeping in a Bedouin tent.

Even if that was true for the leader, it certainly wasn't for his sons.

At a seaside compound in western Tripoli, the Gadhafi boys enjoyed a decadent lifestyle that his people could only dream about, while perpetrating unspeakable horrors on the staff that served their every whim.

CNN visited the seaside homes Sunday.

The first house we entered was apparently the "party" beach condo with an oversized door that led into sleek, modern, black-and-white rooms. It had been ransacked by the rebels, but still it was spectacular, with panoramic ocean views and plenty of evidence of the hedonism for which Hannibal Gadhafi - one of Moammar Gadhafi's sons - is famous.

Discarded bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch and Laurent Perrier pink champagne cases littered the floor. Much of the electronic equipment had been plundered, but instruction manuals remained for high-end Harman/Kardon stereo components. Cabinets designed to hold two huge TV screens could still be seen.

The bedroom held a circular bed, while the in-suite bathroom was complete with sunken Jacuzzi tub lined with plastic white flowers. Outside, a hot tub, a bar and a barbecue area adjoined the private beach.

Another villa contained a white baby grand piano and more expensive stereo equipment. Next door was a huge swimming pool and diving complex, a gym, a steam room and a sauna faced in white marble.

We came upon rebels furtively dividing up a huge stash of alcohol. They seemed edgy and tense - this is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and alcohol was supposedly banned under the Gadhafi regime.

We filmed them studying the labels of Cristal champagne and fine St. Emilion Bordeaux, apparently not realizing each bottle is worth hundreds of dollars.

As we were about to leave, one of the staff told us there was a nanny who worked for Hannibal Gadhafi who might speak to us. He said she'd been burnt by Hannibal's wife, Aline.

I thought he meant perhaps a cigarette stubbed out on her arm. Nothing prepared me for the moment I walked into the room to see Shweyga Mullah.

At first I thought she was wearing a hat and something over her face. Then the awful realization dawned that her entire scalp and face were covered in red wounds and scabs, a mosaic of injuries that rendered her face into a grotesque patchwork.

Even though the burns were inflicted three months ago, she was clearly still in considerable pain. But she told us her story calmly.

She'd been the nanny to Hannibal's little son and daughter.

The 30-year-old came to Libya from her native Ethiopia a year ago. At first things seemed OK, but then six months into her employment she said she was burned by Aline.

Three months later the same thing happened again, this time much more seriously.

In soft tones, she explained how Aline lost her temper when her daughter wouldn't stop crying and Mullah refused to beat the child.

"She took me to a bathroom. She tied my hands behind my back, and tied my feet. She taped my mouth, and she started pouring the boiling water on my head like this," she saidimitating the vessel of scalding hot water being poured over her head.

She peeled back the garment draped carefully over her body. Her chest, torso and legs are all mottled with scars - some old, some still red, raw and weeping. As she spoke, clear liquid oozed from one nasty open wound on her head.

After one attack, "There were maggots coming out of my head, because she had hidden me, and no one had seen me," Mullah said.

Eventually, a guard found her and took her to a hospital, where she received some treatment.

But when Aline Gadhafi found out about the kind actions of her co-worker, he was threatened with imprisonment, if he dared to help her again.

"When she did all this to me, for three days, she wouldn't let me sleep," Mullah said"I stood outside in the cold, with no food. She would say to staff, 'If anyone gives her food, I'll do the same to you.' I had no water - nothing."

Her colleague, a man from Bangladesh who didn't want to give his name, says he was also regularly beaten and slashed with knives. He corroborated Mullah's account and says the family's dogs were treated considerably better than the staff.

Mullah was forced to watch as the dogs ate and she was left to go hungry, he said.

It seems to sum up how the workers at the beachside complex were viewed by the Gadhafi family.

"I worked a whole year they didn't give me one penny," Mullah said. "Now I want to go to the hospital. I have no money. I have nothing."

She starts sobbing gently - an utterly pitiful scene.

Filed under: backstory • Libya
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Yedda

    Is there ANYTHING I can do for this woman? if so please direct me as to how to do that, SHAME SHAME on Aline for doing such an inhumane thing, One day she WILL have to answer for what she did, what an example to her children, and THIS is supposed to be a mother???? yeah right!!

    August 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Melissa

    Did anyone help this poor woman to have hospitalization and any other kind of help. Is there a fund set up to help this woman where I may send something to help her???

    August 29, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ziya

      Really esongnsirg. I'm interested in this character, and in the kind of culture that could manage such a thing as this. It seems that the occasional "farmer" wouldn't be the only sacrifice required.Good stuff.

      February 26, 2012 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jan

    What has been done for this woman? Is there any follow-up to this story somewhere? How can we help her?

    August 29, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Teddy

    It is a sad story.It shows the brutality of the regim across the country.I would like to help this victim.I thankyou the CNN,Dan River,showing the horrifing story of this poor lady to the world.

    August 30, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Shian

      the police sent the woman to the hiosptal to be examined, took DNA samples from Decato and swabbed the woman's home for . Testing showed Decato's DNA on the woman's couch, her shower curtain and the bedroom mattress the three places where she said he raped her, O'Neil said.

      July 26, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. Augisha

    I am absolutely horrified and heartbroken. I really want to set up a fund to help Shweyga Mullah!! Is there anywhere we can send her money and get her to an adequete hospital. She is in so much pain. There are no words for the inhuman beast that would do this to another person. May God have mercy on her soul, because she will burn in hell.

    August 30, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff

    I caught this story earlier and was horrified and angry.... I too wish it were getting more coverage and there was some way to help.

    August 30, 2011 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ms tery

    Can CNN or its affiliates set up a fund for her seeing as her suffering has obtained them higher ratings. Amnesty International or any organization for Human trafficking or human rights would be the right place to start a fund that can be ensured she gets the help she needs. Let us hope a good hearted surgeon or doctor will perhaps volunteer to help this poor women. This is a terrible tragedy and very sickening. Yet so many people every day around the world are held in slavery and treated in the same manner as Shweyga Mullah. I hope this wakes people up also the suffering that takes place every day worldwide to men, women and children in slavery and servitude.

    August 30, 2011 at 5:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. jo

    All Arabs are almost infidels and are enemy to poor Christan Ethiopians! Ethiopians are humble people but because of our poverty nobody stands to us when abused. To day we are poor tomorrow we will be prosperous tomorrow

    August 31, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Meena

      all the more resaon to make every single nanosecond count. My gma passed away when I was 15 and I regret not having more time to really know her.

      February 24, 2012 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. rubin

    The gulf between humanity and inhumanity is exhibited by this touching story,she requires all the help she can get,and it is through media houses such as youselves that will get her much needed treatment and rehabilitation,as for Alaine,there are no words to describe how criminal and despicable her shameful actions are,she should be hunted down and prosecuted for her representation of the most henious crime against humanity and human dignity represented by a hard working compassinate nanny..i am beyond words,a global effort to help her and to bring Alaine to book ought to be spearheaded..

    August 31, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Enndelbu

    Why our sisters are suffering on the hand of evil Arabs? How long we are running from the truth and give a little lip service when we see this kind of things? My friends we don’t live 100 years on this planet let us think how to change our little brothers and sisters life. There are Millions of young sisters waiting for a chance to join the suffering and humiliation on the evil Arabs hand. U may say they are uninformed hell no they knew it but they prefer to die trying instead of going to bed empty stomach every day, they hate to see the suffering of their brothers, sisters, mother and father so that they just go to Arab countries. They are the victims of bad governance let us have the Egyptians, Libyans and Tunisians heart and let’s stop running from the truth.

    September 1, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hanna Mariam

    God really led Dan Rivers to Shewaye! May God be with you, dear sister! what an evil bitch this aline is!!! how is this kind of inhumanity still possible in this day and age! her only crime was that she was more beautiful than you, you arab bitch! you will pay for what you did. now that your evil deed has been exposed, there's no escape for you.

    September 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Devu

      It now seems Tony Blair was in cahoots not only with Gaddafi, which we speeuctsd all along because it was known they communicated, but he was very deeply intertwined with Rupert Murdoch too, being Godson to his child. Unbelievable is there anyone the man in the street can trust to represent his interests?

      May 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
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    December 12, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
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    Hallo, ich liebe deinen Blog Gibt es etwas, das ich tun, um Updates wie ein Abonnement oder etwas empfangen kann? Es tut mir leid ich bin nicht mit RSS vertraut?

    December 23, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
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    February 26, 2012 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Lyana

      yeah let arab and other country to solve they own pbeolrm with they own way, stop interfered and exploiting they natural resource. stop act as if america is the best pbeolrm solution nation. in fact america has huge pbeolrm with high debt, high poverty rate, and high unemployment. and soon will become third world country below china, india etc.

      May 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
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