Tunisia seeks guarantee to extradite Libyan ex-PM

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 02, 2012 2:08 PM
Tunisia seeks guarantee to extradite Libyan ex-PM

By Mahmoud Habboush

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki told Libya on Monday that his country would extradite former Libyan prime minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi to Tripoli to face charges of abuse of office if Libya guaranteed him a fair trial.

Mahmoudi, who had been prime minister since 2006, fled across the border to Tunisia soon after Muammar Gaddafi's rule collapsed in August.

A Tunisian court ruled on November 8 that he should be extradited, ignoring arguments that he would not be given a fair trial in an environment where Gaddafi himself was killed shortly after capture, and where a post-Gaddafi judiciary has yet to be properly established.

Marzouki said in a speech in the capital Tripoli that Tunisia wanted to "make sure 1,000 percent that there is a fair trial, and that there's an independent judiciary."

"I am confident that this equation will happen," he told a gathering of civil society organizations, "meaning that you will guarantee for us fair and impartial trial in Tripoli and we guarantee your rights to receive this person."

Mahmoudi was the highest-ranking member of Gaddafi's administration in detention until Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam was captured by forces loyal to Libya's new rulers in November.

He had given televised briefings during the Libyan revolution defending Gaddafi and accusing NATO of deliberately killing civilians.

Marzouki, who was imprisoned in Tunisia and then exiled as a political dissident under ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, was installed last month as his country's president.

"As we, in Tunisia, have the right to demand that Ben Ali be handed over to be held accountable for his crimes in our country, you have the right to ask for Mahmoudi to be handed over," he said.

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Libya's interim prime minister, Abdurrahim al-Keib, called on Libya's neighbors on Monday to hand over anyone working to reinstate the former regime.

"We always want our brothers, whether in Tunisia, Egypt or Algeria and other countries, to consider the pain caused by the former regime and its supporters, who can still undermine our nation's security," he told Reuters on Monday.

"We would like them ... to will play a major role in bringing those who oppressed the Libyan people to justice."

(Reporting by Mahmoud Habboush; Editing by Kevin Liffey)