Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi with Carmen Electra at the Opera Ball in Vienna in 2006Getty

At the end of Libya's revolutionary war Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the heir apparent to his father Muammar Gaddafi's eccentric and tyrannical fiefdom, was captured attempting to flee the country.

Bearded and disguised as Tuareg tribesman it was a meteoric fall from grace for the Gaddafi princeling who had kept two pet tigers and a lion in his guilded compound on the outskirts of Tripoli and enjoyed hunting with falcons, the preserve of Arab royalty.

For the past four years Saif al-Islam, 43, has languished in the mountain town of Zintan, held by a former rebel group. He was sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Tripoli on 28 July.

The faces Saif al-Islam presented to the world were, like his father's, various and contradictory. He appeared at intervals as the Western-educated reformer, a spoilt and ostentatious playboy, and finally, wearing a sneer, an autocratic thug.

Armed with a PhD from the London School of Economics, Saif al-Islam was for the West and Libya's urban middle class a reformist who would allow the north African oil producer's rapprochement with the international community following decades of isolation.

Saif Gaddafi
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was arrested by revolutionaries as he attempted to flee Libya dressed as a Tuareg tribesmanReuters

He posed wearing sunglasses on yachts with businessmen and Tory party donors, met the royal family at Buckingham Palace and Windsor and had secretive affairs with models.

However, despite his image, for a number of years he appeared to be living up to his political promise. The favoured son championed Libya's rehabilitation with the West which eventually led his father to give up the country's nuclear programme. His efforts culminated in the now infamous meeting in the desert between Muammar Gaddafi and former British prime minister Tony Blair.

He also negotiated compensation for relatives of victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, the 1986 Berlin nightclub attack and the 1989 downing of UTA flight 772.

Saif al-Islam also addressed relations with Libya's Islamist opposition. He secured the release of several prominent opposition figures who had been held in Gaddafi prisons for decades.

However, the reforms did not come fast enough and as Libya became caught up in the Arab spring protests which swept the region Saif al-Islam reverted to type and vigorously defended his father's Jamahiriya or "state of the masses".

The London School of Economics faced criticism for its association with Saif al-Islam after his actions in the revolution war. He has also been accused of plagiarising his doctoral paper on the role of civil society in democracy.

Saif Gaddafi
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was sentenced in absentia and appeared in the Tripoli court via video linkGetty

In a long and rambling monologue on Libyan State Television Saif al-Islam claimed the 2011 revolution was caused by "drunken and drugged" Islamists, promising widespread slaughter and a river of blood.

His words echoed his father's desperate speech in Tripoli's Green Square, now Martyrs' Square, in which Colonel Gaddafi promised protesters would hunted down "inch by inch, house by house, home by home, alleyway by alleyway".

Saif al-Islam was sentenced to death by firing squad for war crimes and acts to crush peaceful protests.

In one particularly incriminating video from the 2011 revolution in Libya Saif al-Islam appears encouraging a crowd of armed supporters to fight the rebels.

Since his capture Saif al-Islam has remained defiant and aloof in brief televisions appearances. In 2014 he indicated he was happy to be tried in Libya despite calls by the International Criminal court that he stand trial at the Hague.

Colonel Gaddafi ruled in Libya for 42 years
Colonel Gaddafi ruled in Libya for 42 yearsReuters

Cruel and unusual: The Gaddafi family tree

Muammar Gaddafi: Ruler of Libya for 42 years was killed by rebels at the close of the country's 2011 revolution.

Widow Safia Farkash: Mother of seven of Gaddafi's children, she fled to Oman via Algeria following the revolution in Libya.

Muhammad: The only child from Gaddafi's first marriage; captured by rebels during the war but escaped. He was granted asylum in Oman after fleeing to Algeria.

Saif al-Islam: Sentenced to death for his role in the crushing of peaceful protests during the Libyan revolution. He is held in Zintan.

Al-Saadi: A former footballer, who paid Italian clubs to let him play for them, Saadi Gaddafi declared himself a Salafist while in exile in Niger but was extradited back to Libya after he was accused of political activism.

Mutassim: A senior military figure in Gaddafi's army, Mutassim was the most active of the Gaddafi clan in prosecuting the crackdown against protesters. He was captured in 2011 and was executed with his father in Sirte.

Hannibal: Had several incidents with international police forces. He faced charges in Geneva for attacking hotel staff and allegedly beating up his wife in a central London hotel. He has been granted political asylum in Oman.

Aisha: Was asked to leave Algeria after she vandalised a presidential residence during the revolution. She is also now in Oman.