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John Dalli casts doubt on Libya footage

European Commissioner John Dalli cast doubts on footage coming out from Libya, suggesting some of it may have been staged for television cameras.

“Sometimes, seeing somebody who speaks perfect English with some 30 people behind him to seem like a crowd... doubts creep into my mind as to whether it is staged for journalists and cameras,” he said, when asked about Libya during a breakfast meeting on EU competitiveness, organised by the Malta Business Bureau yesterday.

Condemning the violence, Mr Dalli said he did not rely on media reports of the unrest to know what was happening on the ground.

He said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s acceptance of mediation by Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez could be an indication he was feeling uneasy on the ground and was trying to find a way out.

When asked whether Col Gaddafi should resign, he said the Libyan leader “should make his own decisions”.

Mr Dalli’s comments came just 24 hours after Commission president José Manuel Barroso unequivocally called for Col Gaddafi’s resignation.

Mr Barroso told a meeting for commissioners in Brussels on Thursday: “It is time for him (Col Gaddafi) to go and give the country back to the people of Libya, allowing democratic forces to chart out a future course. The situation we are seeing in Libya is simply outrageous. We cannot accept this.” Attempts to contact Mr Barroso about Mr Dalli’s comments proved futile.

Mr Dalli said after the breakfast meeting that information was hard to come by and this made him sceptical of all media reports, including those portraying a calm situation in Tripoli.

He said it was “pitiful” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted she had to rely on media reports to get information on what was happening in Libya.

While acknowledging that hundreds or thousands had died in the violence that gripped the North African state, Mr Dalli said the media was treating the tragedy as “some sort of reality show”.

Mr Dalli, who owns a house in Tripoli, was a director of a glass manufacturing company in Libya and had business ties with Libya in the past.

He described the situation in Libya as a civil war with two groups of people steadfast in their beliefs fighting each other. “Knowing Libya and Libyans... they preach retribution and I fear what is happening is only sowing the seeds for more strife,” he said, adding nobody had the right to tell Libyans what to do.

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