Tripoli, 8 December:
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has told demonstrators protesting outside the General National Congress building and the adjoining Rixos Hotel . . .[restrict]today, Saturday, that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Maliki had phoned him and promised that Adel Al-Shaalali, the 38-year-old Libyan sentenced by an Iraqi court to death in late August on terrorism charges, will not be executed tomorrow.
On Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had called on the Iraqi government to delay the execution.
Zeidan also told the demonstrators that Maliki had promised him that Libyan human rights activist Ahmed Shami will be freed and back in Libya next week.
Shami, who has been working at the behest of the Libyan authorities to repatriate Libyans arrested in Iraq, was himself arrested on 18 October and has been held ever since. An Iraqi court ordered his release on 6 November but the Iraqi authorities have ignored the court order. It is widely believed he is being held because of the help he provided to Libyan detainees in Iraq.
Some hundred or so demonstrators had gathered outside the Rixos to demand action from the Libyan authorities to stop tomorrow’s execution. It was organised by the Union of Libyan Revolutionaries as well as a number of NGOs including the Libyan Organisation for the Protection of Aims of the 17 February Revolution, the Youth Awareness Association, the Humanitarian Awareness Coalition, and “Libya Called Me” Association.
The demonstrators attacked the government and Congress for not acting quickly enough over the issue of Libyan prisoners in Iraq. They demanded that Iraq prove its good will towards Libya by granting an amnesty for all remaining Libyans in Iraqi jails.
In Benghazi, student demonstrators outside the Tibesti Hotel threatened to attack Iraqis in the city if Shaalali were executed. They likewise criticised the government and GNC for failing to take action earlier to save Shaalali.
In New York, Human Rights Watch also demanded that Iraqi authorities stay the execution of Shaalali as well as provide information on his case.
“The possibility that Iraq might execute Shaalali without revealing even basic information about his case highlights grave concerns about Iraq’s justice system,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The Iraqi government should immediately stay Shaalali’s execution.”
“International human rights law requires that where the death penalty has not been abolished, it should be imposed only for the most serious crimes and after scrupulous adherence to international fair trial standards. Trials in Iraq often violate these minimum guarantees,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
According to it, four other Libyans are also on death row on unknown charges in Iraq. However, Libyan activists say that two, including Shaalali, are awaiting execution and that two have already been executed.
“The government of Iraq should place an immediate stay on all pending death sentences and issue a public and permanent moratorium on any use of the death penalty until it permanently abolishes capital punishment,” it added. “Iraq should also order a thorough and impartial investigation into the scores of executions that took place earlier in 2012.” [/restrict]