The long-time face of Alice phone company advertisements has been sacked after making remarks complimentary to the family of former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi and his son Mutassim.
vanessa hessler
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"Starting immediately, she will no longer be an advertising figure for us," said a spokesman for the Spanish company Telefonica, which recently bought Alice via its O2 subsidiary.

Hessler, a 23-year-old an Italian model, shot to fame as Alice's poster girl on television, the internet and in print.

She was previously been in a relationship with 33-year-old Mutassim Qaddafi for several years. The son of Libya's dictator was killed in fighting with rebel forces earlier this month. He was a senior figure in his father's regime, meeting with key foreign officials and serving as National Security Advisor.

In an interview with the Italian magazine Diva e Donna Hessler said the Qaddafi family were "normal people" and expressed her displeasure at the regime's fall.

She also said Libya wasn't poor and people there weren't fanatics. She cautioned people to "not believe everything you read."

"We - France and Great Britain - financed the rebels. The people don't know what they are doing," she said in the interview.

On Monday the Alice spokesman said: "She has not clearly distanced herself from the statements" and said her image would be immediately removed from Alice's website and shops.

Mario Gori, a manager at Hessler's modelling agency, said her comments had been made while she was still in a state of shock after the death of her former lover.

"Hessler met Qaddafi's son privately. She never had anything to do with his father," said Gori, adding the model's comments had not affected her work for Telefonica or the company's image.

Although the Alice brand is in the process of being replaced by O2 in the coming months, the company had recently praised Hessler and said her image would continue to grace the telecom's offerings.