French secret services organised the capture of former Libyan ruler Moamer Kadhafi and may have killed him on then-president Nicolas Sarkozy's orders, British and Italian papers claimed Sunday. And Kadhafi was located thanks to information provided by Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, reports say.
Sarkozy wanted Kadhafi dead after the Libyan leader publicly threatened to publish proof of his claim to have secretly financed Sarkozy's 2007 presidential election campaign, Britain's Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph claim.
Kadhafi was found hiding in a pipe near Sirte by rebel fighters on 20 October last year. He was beaten by his captors and killed, as recorded on gruesome mobile phone footage that was broadcast round the world.
Now the Mail claims that a French spy infiltrated the group and shot the deposed strongman in the head.
And the Telegraph says that French spies operating in Sirte were able to lead the rebels to him because Assad had given them his telephone number in exchange for France easing pressure on his regime.
As Kadhafi's forces lost Tripoli, Western attention turned to the violent repression of protests in Syria.
But, although Sarkozy had proposed humanitarian zones and intervention, Assad persuaded France to ease off in return for Kadhafi's Iridium satellite phone number, according to Rami Eel Obeidi, the former head of foreign intelligence for the rebels.
The French pinpointed Kadhafi after he phoned one of his supporters, Yusuf Shakir, and Palestinian left-wing leader Ahmed Jibril in Syria. They then directed militia fighters to a point where they could ambush Kadhafi, he said.
The ambush was "an exclusive French operation", although Turkish and British military intelligence in Sirte were informed, Obeidi said.
Also this weekend, Mahmoud Jibril, who was interim prime minister after Kadhafi's fall, told Egyptian television that Kadhafi was killed by "a foreign agent who mixed with the revolutionary brigades".
And Western diplomats told Italy's Corriere della Sera that the killer was "almost certainly French" and that "Sarkozy had every reason to want to get rid of the colonel as quickly as possible".
"The view is supported by information gathered by investigators in Benghazi, Libya's second city and the place where the 'Arab Spring' revolution against Gaddafi started in early 2011," comments the Daily Mail.
The French foreign ministry has refused to confirm or deny the claims.
Ben Omran Shaaban, a 22-year-old rebel fighter who was among the group who attacked Kadhafi and frequently brandished the gun said to have killed him, died in a Paris hospital on Monday.
He was reported to have been beaten up and shot by Kadhafi supporters and have been flown to France for treatment.