Tripoli, 29 May:
The manager of Tripoli’s Rixos hotel, ?ükrü Koçak, was arrested on Tuesday amid allegations of food poisoning at the hotel. He . . .[restrict]was later released according to hotel sources.
However, two other members of staff who were arrested 12 days ago in relation to the allegations remain in custody. A Rixos cook and a store keeper were arrested when amounts of out-of-date food were found in a store during a raid by officials. The two, both Turks, were in court yesterday according to Abu Shikewa, an Interior Ministry official tasked with investigating the arrest of Koçak.
According to the head of Tripoli police, Ali Hamrouni, the raid that resulted in the two earlier arrests followed complaints from people claiming to have suffered food poisoning after eating at the hotel.
Rixos management deny that there has been any food poisoning at the hotel.
It is reported that the complaints — 41 in total — had all come from militiamen or members of the Supreme Security Commission (SSC) forces. This has raised speculation of a grudge against the hotel which provides many hundred of meals a day. It would be strange if only men in uniform suffered food poisoning.
Late in March, Kocak was kidnapped and later released by Zintani militiamen after a row with them over an unpaid bill for accommodation. The row is said to have ended up involving not only the Turkish embassy but the Turkish government as well. It was reported to have contacted the NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil asking him to secure Kocak’s release.
Initially yesterday, it was widely reported that Koçak had been arrested after a medical report showed that two militiamen had died of food poisoning. However, this has not been confirmed at present.
Meanwhile, it is reported in Turkey’s Hürriyet daily that Koçak and 54 staff members, all of them Turkish, are planning to leave and return to Turkey. The paper said that “the hotel’s personnel have been receiving death threats”.
The Rixos, opposite the NTC headquarters, is used by many NTC members as accommodation and for meetings and receptions. It is also used by many VIP delegations. [/restrict]