Court rules Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, Gaddafi’s prime minister until fall of Tripoli, should be handed to Libyan authorities.
|Mahmoudi defended Gaddafi during the Libyan revolution and accused NATO of deliberately killing civilians [File: EPA]|
Tunisia has said it will extradite Libya’s former prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, to Tripoli to face charges of abuse of office if Libya guarantees him a fair trial.
Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, wanted on charges of abuse of office, fled across the border to Tunisia soon after Muammar Gaddafi’s government collapsed in August.
“We will demand all guarantees for a fair trial and that there will be no physical harm” to Mahmoudi, Moncef Marzouki, the Tunisian president, said in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Monday when asked when Tunisia will hand over al-Mahmoudi.
Marzouki, who is on his first state visit abroad since being sworn in as head of state in mid-December, said: “We have our values that we stand for. So we ask for your patience.”
Mahmoudi, 70, is currently incarcerated in Mornaguia, near the Tunisian capital, Tunis. Amnesty International, the UK-based human-rights organisation, has urged Tunisia not to extradite him, saying he risks being subjected to “serious human rights violations”.
Mahmoudi’s defence team says that he fears for his life if he is returns to Libya as he is the sole holder of Libyan state secrets since Gaddafi was killed on October 20.
First state visit
Marzouki told a meeting of civil-society groups in Tripoli that Libya had the right to judge Mahmoudi.
“As is our right to demand the extradition of [deposed President Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali to try him for crimes he committed, you also have the right to ask for the extradition of Mahmoudi,” Marzouki said in a joint press conference with Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the Libyan leader.
“As is our right to demand the extradition of Ben Ali to try him for crimes he committed, you also have the right to ask for the extradition of Mahmoudi “
– Moncef Marzouki, Tunisian President
Tunisian courts have twice approved the Libyan request to extradite Mahmoudi, but his extradition can only takes place if Marzouki approves it.
Mahmoudi was arrested on September 21 on Tunisia’s southwestern border with Algeria and jailed for entering the country illegally.
According to his defence team, his extradition is not possible until the UN refugee agency rules on his application for political refugee status in Tunisia.
He had given televised briefings during the Libyan revolution defending Gaddafi and accusing NATO of deliberately killing civilians.
Ben Ali was toppled last January in a popular uprising. His overthrow triggered the Arab Spring movement which has led to the fall of the long-time Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak, and the killing of Gaddafi, while also paving the way for the removal of Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president.
Purpose of visit
Marzouki said the purpose of his visit was to ensure that Tunisian-Libyan co-operation was on track.
He said the two countries had agreed to respect agreements signed under the governments of Gaddafi and Ben Ali.
For his part, Abdel Jalil, who heads Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council, apologised for skirmishes along the border with Tunisia, saying they were the result of actions by individuals.
Tunisian paramilitary police clashed overnight with a Libyan armed group, the TAP news agency said on Monday.
And on Saturday, a dozen armed Libyans kidnapped four Tunisian gendarmes at the border.