Tunisian President Says Libyan Ex-PM’s Extradition “Illegal”
The president of Tunisia, Moncef Marzouki, on Monday called the extradition of the former Libyan Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi by his country “illegal,” contending that the former Libyan official, the first to b extradited and appear in a trial in his country, was not approved by him.
Al-Mahmoudi, 70, fled to Tunisia last year, during the conflict that brought down the regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi and the leader’s demise, and was in Tunisian custody since. Earlier this year the Tunisian president promised to deliver al-Mahmoudi to the Libyan authorities after the Libyan officials made sure he would face a fair trial. In May, Marzouki said that he was in principle opposed to the transfer.
Human rights groups warned that should he be sent back to Libya, al-Mahmoudi could be submitted to human rights violations. BBC reports that the Tunisian government had made the decision to extradite the former PM based on a report issued by a delegation which visited Tripoli and determined that the demands for a proper trial were met by the Libyan authorities.
The Tunisian government decided to extradite the Libyan PM without the consent of the president, arguing that this decision did not need the president’s signature. The presidential office, however, issued a statement in which it said that the decision of the government would affect the foreign policy of Tunisia, which is within the purview of the presidential office.
Al-Mahmoudi was transferred by helicopter on Sunday and is expected to stand on trial in Tripoli as his lawyers fear for his life, considering that he is about the last one to know many secrets of the former regime.
The former PM was arrested in Libya in September last year, after the fall of Tripoli, and was sentenced to six years in prison, a sentence which was overturned by the appeal. In Libya, al-Mahmoudi is expected to be accused of crimes committed during the Qaddafi regime.
The Guardian reports that Libyan authorities are extremely satisfied with having such a pivotal figure of the former regime brought to justice, and hope to receive from him information related to the accounts of Qaddafi abroad, given that al-Mahmoudi spent two decades in the ministerial ranks of the regime, occupying at some point the chair in the high councils for oil and gas.
Libya hopes that the gesture of Tunisia will be followed by other countries, which have other high-ranking leaders of the former regime, including two sons of the former leader, who are being hosted by Algeria and Niger respectively.
The move comes at a time when the parliamentary elections are expected to be held on July 7, the first free elections in the northern African country since independence.11