The last-known girlfriend of Colonel Gaddafi’s playboy son Saif al-Islam has called on his ‘old friend’ Tony Blair to save his life.
Saif Gaddafi is facing the death penalty in Libya where he is on trial for his role in the killing of protesters during last year’s uprising against his father.
Human rights groups are concerned that he will not face a fair trial and efforts to extradite him to the International Criminal Court in the Hague have failed.
Now Orly Weinerman, a 41-year-old Israeli model and actress who dated Saif for six years after meeting him in London in 2005, has called on Mr Blair to make Saif’s accusers ‘see reason’.
She said: ‘Saif worked closely with Mr Blair before he was captured.
‘The two are old friends – it is time that Mr Blair returned some loyalty.
‘Mr Blair is a man of God – as a Christian he has a moral duty to help a friend in need.’
Saif’s close links with Mr Blair were illustrated in documents found during the uprising.
A letter written by Mr Blair in 2007 gave suggestions to help with Saif’s PhD, which he was taking at the London School of Economics.
Miss Weinerman added: ‘You should just ask Mr Blair what a serious, honourable person he is. The ICC has let him down, and so has the international community.
‘Killing him will achieve absolutely nothing, beyond punishing him for who his father was. Absolutely everything must be done to save him.’
The Israeli actress said her ‘discreet relationship’ with Saif al-Islam – whose name means ‘Sword of Islam’ – began in April 2005 when they were introduced by mutual friends.
It was strained from the start because she is Jewish – a fact that caused complications in an Islamic country such as Libya.
Her parents – her father is a green energy consultant and her mother a pianist – were also opposed to her converting to Islam, she said, and her relationship with Saif came in for much criticism in the Israeli press.
‘It was something we had to deal with,’ said Miss Weinerman, who is now based in her home city of Tel Aviv.
‘The fact that Saif was prepared to involve himself in a loving relationship with a Jew is a measure of how open and civilised he is.
‘He judged people for what they are – not what people perceive them to be. Saif never made an issue of my religion, or the country I came from.’
She had previously denied having any contact with Saif, after publications including Germany’s Der Spiegel reported their romance in 2006.
Saif’s reputation is as a notorious womaniser, and he has been photographed surrounded by gorgeous women.
When his father ruled Libya, Saif played a key role in dealings with the West, and in particular with Mr Blair who met the tyrant in the infamous ‘Deal in the Desert’ in 2004 to bring Libya in from the cold.
It was around then that a grubby backroom deal is suspected of being done to free the Lockerbie bomber, although Mr Blair denies any part in this.
When Mr Blair stepped down as premier, he pursued business interests in the North African country, assisting international companies to make profits from its oil and gas reserves.
Miss Weinerman did not meet Mr Blair or any of Saif’s other high-profile Western contacts, but says she was dating him during the period when he was meeting them.
She was also busy with modelling assignments and soap opera parts in mainly Israeli TV shows at the time.
At one stage the couple talked of marriage, she said, but were finally separated last year when the Libyan uprising toppled the dictator after 42 years in power, and Saif went on the run.
The trial of Saif Gaddafi, being held in the mountain town of Zintan, will be one of the biggest events the country has seen.
Previous attempts to bring him to trial had been plagued with arguments over whether the case should be heard in the capital.
The Zintan brigade fighters – who captured him – insisted he be tried in their home town amid fears he might escape with the help of sympathisers if he was put in the dock in Tripoli, or that he would be treated leniently.
The decision was also complicated by a demand from the International Criminal Court that Saif be tried at The Hague.
One official from the Libyan prosecutor’s office said recently: ‘We are sure that the evidence we have gathered is solid and it will shock and surprise the world. We believe we are capable of holding a fair trial.’
Three Libyan judges will hear the case, which is expected to last for up to six months, with two prosecutors.
Saif has so far refused to appoint a lawyer to defend him, and one will be appointed for him if he continues to refuse.
Human rights groups have argued that the Libyan justice system is not capable of dealing with such a high-profile case.
Amnesty International said an unfair trial in Libya would go against ‘justice and accountability’.
Yesterday a spokesman for Tony Blair declined to comment.