By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 3 August:
There has been no breakthrough in the issue of Libyan prisoners held in Iraq, government spokesman Nasser . . .[restrict]Al-Manaa has said. He was responding to media reports that, as a result of negotiations, a number of Libyans held in Iraq had been freed and brought back home. “No Libyan officials have ever taken these prisoners home,’ he said at the weekly government press conference in Tripoli on Wednesday.
Just over a month ago, it was announced in Iraq that eight Libyan jailed for fighting against Iraqi and coalition forces were to be released on the orders of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.
Nothing, however, had happened. Negotiations were still ongoing, said Manaa yesterday, adding that Libya was in touch with Iraq about twice a week on the issue. The last contacts had been the previous day, he disclosed.
There were 18 Libyan prisoners being held in Iraqi jails, said Manaa, who himself led a Libyan government mission to Baghdad in February to try and secure the Libyans’ release. The number of Libyans who have gone missing in Iraq was higher, around 80, he said, but their whereabouts were unknown.
Those in prison had been charged with various crimes, including illegal entry and violence, he explained.
It is believed that four are on death row, found guilty by Iraqi courts of terrorist offenses.
Back in March, at the same weekly press conference, Manaa said that agreement had been reached with the Iraqis and that the prisoners would be handed over. [/restrict]