by Hadi Fornaji
Tripoli, 6 July:
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has today called for “appropriate judicial systems” to be followed in the case . . .[restrict]of the detained former prime minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.
Mahmoudi was extradited to Libya from Tunisia on 24 June but has yet to be brought before a judge or informed of the pending charges against him. He is being held in a Tripoli prison run by the judicial police, along with eight other former Qaddafi officials.
In what they note is “a positive move,” HRW representatives were allowed to visit Mahmoudi in prison on 3 July, where they conducted a confidential 30-minute interview with him. Despite his previous fears of extradition and subsequent mistreatment, Mahmoudi told HRW that he felt safe in the facility where he is now being held. He added however that he was still afraid of ill-treatment “by random people and militias.”
HRW has requested that the Libyan authorities ensure that Mahmoudi receives his full rights as a suspect, saying he should be brought promptly before a judge to determine the basis for his detention. He should also be informed of the charges against him, as defined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Libya in 1970.
“Tunisia extradited Mahmoudi after receiving assurances that Libya would not mistreat him,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW. “It is now up to Libya to keep its word to respect Mahmoudi’s rights, both for him and to show its good intentions toward the 7,000 other people detained across Libya by various authorities.”
Although his treatment in Libya has been satisfactory, Mahmoudi does say that he was mistreated whilst being held in the Mornaguia prison in Tunis. There, he was threatened by guards and beaten with sticks, boots and a plastic whip. HRW is calling for a prompt investigation into the allegations of ill-treatment at the hands of the Tunisian prison authorities and for appropriate action to be taken against any perpetrators of abuse.
Mahmoudi, Qaddafi’s prime minister from 2006 to 2011, fled Libya in September 2011 but was arrested in Tunisia for illegal entry. Tunisia’s government was split over whether to extradite him to Libya, with interim president Moncef Marzouki expressing concern that he could be at risk of torture in his native country.
After receiving assurances from the Libyan authorities that Mahmoudi would not face ill-treatment, Tunisia’s prime minister, Hamadi Jebali made the decision to extradite Libya’s former prime minister. Mahmoudi says he was told that he was being taken to receive medical care but that instead he was put on a Tripoli-bound plane.
Mahmoudi told HRW: “The chief of staff of the Libyan Army, General Youssef al-Mangoush, was waiting for me and he reassured me that I would be well treated and not harmed.”
Whilst Mahmoudi’s has not been mistreated in the Tripoli prison, HRW said concerns remain about the delays in bringing him before a judge. “For Libyans to achieve justice, the Libyan authorities need to ensure that the rule of law is respected and detainees are granted their full due process rights,” Goldstein said. [/restrict]