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Johannesburg – Police have increased their security protection around Bashir Saleh, a former aide to late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, as he continues to recuperate from a gunshot wound following a recent attack on him in Johannesburg. However, questions remain as to whether the attack was politically or criminally motivated.

Saleh was shot in the stomach last Friday as he travelled from Oliver Tambo International Airport through Johannesburg’s northern suburb of Athol after returning from a trip to Zimbabwe during an attack that also wounded his driver. He was subsequently rushed to Milpark Hospital’s intensive care. 

"There is no evidence that the attack was politically motivated,” his lawyers in France were reported as saying.

However, relatives of Saleh stated that he had “felt particularly threatened in recent weeks" and are surprised that the attackers did not steal anything from the vehicle.

French courts have in the past repeatedly asked him to testify as a key witness in an investigation into a possible Libyan financing of the campaign of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007. 

He has also been linked by the United Nations to the payment of $800m in funds moved from South Africa into a bank account in Kenya.

Saleh was also reported to have invested up to $1 billion in South Africa after he moved here five years ago where he received a warm welcome from former president Jacob Zuma.

Saleh, who is wanted by Interpol, is also considered to be a mine of information about the former regime of Gadaffi and billions of dollars of Libyan assets missing in Africa.

Gadaffi’s former oil minister, Chukry Ghanem, mysteriously drowned in the Danube River in Vienna, between the two rounds of the French presidential election of 2012.

Ghanem, too, had kept diarised details of investigations into allegations that Gadaffi had financed the presidential campaign of Sarkozy in 2007, including 1.5 million Euros sent to Sarkozy by Saleh.

No arrest warrant for Saleh has been issued by the South African police despite him being wanted by Interpol.

African News Agency/ANA