Palma.—Ultima Hora photojournalist Pedro Prieto explained yesterday that it was a Monday afternoon when he received a call from the founder and chairman of the Grup Serra media organisation saying that Gaddafi was arriving in Palma the following day.

“So, Joan Riera (the current deputy editor of DBalears) and I decided to head up to the Son Vida Hotel and begin sniffing about. “There were no signs of any other media when we got there but there was a group of very smartly dressed Libyans, clearly security and some of them were armed. “They were hanging around outside, as we were, all watching each other. Then suddenly one left and I followed him into Palma to the old department store Galerias Preciados where he bought three horrible suits - all they later served to do was show off their weapons more. “Then, back at the hotel, security commanders began arriving and a lot of saluting and bowing was going on. It was becoming increasingly clear that something big was going down. But there was still no sign of any other media. So, we continued to hang about until a member of staff, who has since retired, confirmed the news to me on the quiet. We headed back to the newsroom and the decision was taken to slap a massive picture of Gaddafi on the front page with the headline ‘Gaddafi arrives today'.” “That night I told my wife over dinner ,‘a bit heavy', she replied,” Pedro recounted. “I couldn't sleep that night and was up early listening to the radio bulletins as I shaved etc. and there was no mention of Gaddafi arriving in Spain, never mind Majorca. “It was a tense and nervous morning back at the Son Vida. “Then suddenly at 10.30 a taxi turned up carrying five of Britain's Middle East correspondents and one of them, a woman whose name I can't remember, said that Gaddafi would be landing in Palma within about half an hour. “The sense of relief was amazing, although that is when we all started sweating as the media began to descend on the hotel from all over Spain and Europe. “Eventually, dressed in his typical Libyan clothes, Gaddafi arrived with more security at 1pm. “Taking pictures was difficult as pretty much the entire hotel was in a security lock down. “That afternoon, Gaddafi held talks in Santa Ponsa with the then Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez. A meeting which had been brokered by the former Chancellor of Austria Bruno Kreisky. “The gathering was also attended by the former United States Consular Agent to the Balearics Tummi Bestard,” said Pedro. “Gaddafi and his entourage spent the night in the hotel's best suites and the following morning, before leaving, he gave a press conference, most of which he spent laughing and joking about the United States. “And then he was gone, less than 24 hours on the island. But at least at that point all of the Grup Serra journalists and photographers who had been on the original exclusive could relax,” Pedro recalled. “We had been right.”

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