By Saber Ayyub.
Tripoli, 12 June 2015:
Three staff members at the Central Bank of Libya kidnapped two days ago have been freed . . .[restrict]after their colleagues went on strike demanding their release. The three, from the CBL’s anti-money laundering department and named as Musab Zariba, Ali Atia and Hatem Berish, were seized while investigating a fraud involving millions of dollars-worth of letters of credit.
Their abduction follows that of CBL spokesman Essam El-Oul at the beginning of the week.
The staff protested yesterday outside the bank buildings in the capital. In an official statement read out in front of the main entrance of Tripoli’s CBL, they said that they would remain on strike until their colleagues were released. They threatened to shut down all Libya’s banks.
Their colleagues, they said, had beenwere kidnapped by armed militias operating outside state control.
Social media sites are openly naming a leading militia leader for responsibility for the kidnapping.
The exact details of the kidnapping vary. One report says that the three CBL employees were kidnapped from the Bel Ashhar branch of the Gumhouria Bank in Tajoura where they were carrying out inspections.
These came about after the branch had refused to process a Letter of Credit (LC) for the militia leader on the suspicion that the documents he had presented were fake.
The LC was reported to be worth in the region of US$ 159 million.
This militia leader and his forces have been accused in the past of carrying out kidnappings, but to date no legitimate civilian Libyan authority has been strong enough to confront him.
There is no news about Al-Oul who was also kidnapped last year and held for three days before being released in circumstances that were never explained.
The spate of kidnappings is symptomatic of Libya’s insecurity caused in part by the widespread availability of weapons and breakdown of state security institutions as well as wayward militias operating beyond state control. [/restrict]