Gaddafi's tent goes up, then back down

September 24, 2009 5:47:15 PM PDT
A tent pitched by the Libyan government on Donald Trump's suburban New York City estate was briefly put up again a day after it was taken down.Bedford Town Supervisor Lee Roberts says Gaddafi's son had the tent put back up this afternoon so he could eat and take pictures there.

The town sent their attorneys, building inspector and police officers to the scene. Gaddafi's son and his staff were issued a zone code violation summons and a second stop-work order.

A Libyan official, Khalifa Khalifa, said the tent was legal and meant to honor Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, who never came to the 213-acre Seven Springs estate to stay there.

"The tent is a symbol for the country and the president. It goes up everywhere they go," he said.

Once the town workers left, the tent was taken down. The caretaker at the property says the Libyan entourage then left.

Trump said earlier Thursday that he had "no idea" that Gaddafi might be involved in a deal to rent a section of Trump's estate, a town official said.

Bedford Town Supervisor Lee Roberts said Trump told her Wednesday that as far as he knew, his arrangement was with partners in the United Arab Emirates and he was unaware of a Gaddafi connection.

As it turned out, the Libyan government erected a tent on Trump's Seven Springs estate for Gaddafi's use during this week's United Nations General Assembly.

Townspeople and local politicians fumed about an anticipated visit from Gaddafi, and the town alleged that the tent violated local codes.

Trump's office issued a statement late Wednesday saying that he had asked his unidentified "tenant" to remove the tent, and that the tenant had complied. He and the Secret Service said Gaddafi would not be coming to Bedford.

Roberts praised Trump for "defusing the issue." Sachs, however, suggested Thursday that Trump's action may have had something to do with Sachs' threat to take him to court.

"At 2:30 p.m. yesterday, I spoke to Trump and told him that if they did not dismantle the tent, we would commence criminal prosecution," he said. "And the only party we could name as a defendant would be the Trump Organization."

Gaddafi addressed the General Assembly on Wednesday, making waves by saying the U.N. Security Council "should not be called the Security Council, it should be called the 'terror council."' Demonstrators criticized him for giving an effusive welcome home last month to the Libyan convicted of the bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.

Gaddafi gave a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday afternoon in Manhattan.

The dismantling of the tent meant another failed attempt to find a place for the Libyan leader to spend time while in the New York area. Requests for space in Central Park, Englewood, N.J., and Manhattan's Upper East Side were all rejected. Gaddafi stayed at the city's Libyan Mission after arriving Tuesday.

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