You never know what the Muammar Qaddafi rumor mill is going to produce. Today, Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters in Tuscany that he'd learned from Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, the Catholic bishop in Tripoli, that "Qaddafi was most probably outside Tripoli and probably even wounded" by NATO airstrikes targeting his compound, adding that he tends to "give credence to the comment of the bishop." Frattini said that international pressure has "likely" motivated Qaddafi to "seek refuge in a safe place" outside of Tripoli since, after all, "Libya is a big country, with desert areas." You'll notice that Frattini used the words "probably" and "likely" a lot, and even he admitted that Italy has "no hard information on the current fate of Qaddafi."
Still, Reuters explains that Archbishop Martinelli, who's been highly critical of Western airstrikes, might indeed have some inside intelligence. He is in touch with Qaddafi's inner circle and even joined a Muslim cleric in blessing the bodies of Qaddafi's youngest son and three grandchildren when they were killed by a NATO assault in late April. Libyan government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim, however, dismissed Frattini's contention as "nonsense" and claimed that Qaddafi is "in good spirits. He is leading the country day by day. He hasn't been harmed at all."
The rumor is the polar opposite of one floated by Sky News correspondent Mark Stone yesterday, who suggested Qaddafi was secretly staying in the safest place in Tripoli: the Rixos Hotel, which is crawling with foreign journalists and therefore, as Stone sees it, off NATO's radar. Qaddafi appeared on state TV on Wednesday meeting tribal leaders at the Rixos following ten days of speculation that he'd been killed in the same airstrike that killed his son. Stone believes the footage is legitimate. How does Italy's Frattini respond to Stone's theory? He told reporters that he has "many doubts that that footage had been made that day and especially in Tripoli." Here's the video in question: