The president of the Tunisian league for Human Rights (LTDH) says that conditions for a fair trial of former Libyan prime minister Baghadi Al-Mahmoudi do not match those of Tunisia and that the extradition must not proceed.
“Baghdadi Mahmoudi faces torture and even physical liquidation if extradited to Libya,” said Abdessatar Ben Moussa on Saturday at a press conference in Tunis organised by the former premier’s lawyers.
The LTDH president also spoke of “the harsh conditions of confinement” of Baghdadi Mahmoudi, currently in custody in El Mornaguia prison. He called for the 68-year old former premier to be placed under house arrest on the basis that there were “threats to his life in prison”.
Ben Moussa said that his league had refused a request by president Moncef Marzouki to be part of the delegation that visited Libya to investigate conditions for a fair trial. “We refused to participate in this initiative because the delegation consists mainly of representatives from the executive authority,” he said.
He also expressed astonishment at statements by Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hammadi Jebali that the extradition of Mahmoudi would be carried out even “if the decision is not signed by Marzouki”.
His comments follow a statement from Jebali that the decision to hand over Mahmoudi was “irrevocable” and it no longer required presidential approval because the overthrow of former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali last year had invalidated the clause in the Tunisian Constitution of 1959 requiring presidential approval to extradite a foreigner. “The Administrative Tribunal confirmed that the president’s signature is not necessary,” he said.
That, however, is unlikely to be the end of the matter. The prime minister’s view is not shared by many Tunisian lawyers and any decision is likely to spend considerable time going through the courts. It is also set to form the heart of a political power struggle between presidency and government.
At Saturday’s press conference, the head of the “International Committee for the Defence of Libyans”, Bechir Essid, said that it was “regrettable that there is manoeuvering between the presidency of the republic and the presidency’s interim government on this issue”.
He called for the immediate release of Mahmoudi, allowing him “to choose the host that suits him”. Another defence lawyer, Mabrouk Korchid, said that “the life of former Libyan prime minister is in danger” expressing concern that he might die in prison. According to lawyer Lilia Mestiri, Mahmoudi suffers from early prostate cancer and vascular problems.
Calling Mahmoudi’s detention “a violation of humanitarian principles”, French lawyer Marcel Ceccaldi said he had appealed to the African Court of Human Rights in the case. A representative of Human Rights Human Rights Watch, Amna Guellali, also reiterated her organization’s opposition to the extradition of Mahmoudi because of the risk of torture that she claimed happened in Libya.
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