Activists occupy Gadhafi mansion in London

AP News
Posted: Mar 09, 2011 2:43 PM
Activists occupy Gadhafi mansion in London

Activists on Wednesday occupied a London mansion owned by a son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, and said they hoped Libyan refugees would join them.

A group calling itself Topple the Tyrants said its members entered the house in solidarity with Libyans trying to oust the Gadhafi regime. Several climbed onto the roof and unfurled a banner showing Gadhafi's face and the words "out of Libya, out of London."

Spokesman Montgomery Jones said the squatters would stay "until this property can be returned to the Libyan people."

"We don't trust the British government to return the house to the Libyan people, to whom it rightfully belongs," he said.

He said the group hoped Libyan exiles would come join them at the eight-bedroom Georgian-style house, which has a swimming pool, hot tub and sauna

"We are not going to leave until we have a 100 percent guarantee that this house is going back to the Libyan people," said Belkasem Alghiryani, a 34-year-old squatter, from Manchester, England.

He said the occupants would not disrupt local residents. "We are going to be better neighbors than Seif himself," Alghiryani said.

The house is reportedly owned by Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, a graduate of the London School of Economics. It had been on the market for more than 10 million pounds ($16 million), but was withdrawn from sale last month.

The Metropolitan Police said officers were monitoring the situation and no arrests had been made. The force said it was treating the occupation "as a civil matter."

Squatting is not a criminal offense in Britain unless force was used to enter a property, and evicting squatters can be a lengthy process.

The British government has seized more than $3.3 billion in assets belonging to the Gadhafi family and associates as part of international sanctions against the Libyan regime.