By Sami Zaptia.
London, 6 August 2021:
Libya’s Attorney General issued an order yesterday to arrest the head of Libya’s Mini Football Association Hussien Twelib, the Head of the Libyan Air Ambulance Service and the Co-Pilot of the flight that transported ill footballers to Rome, as well as an order to investigate the mini footballers’ malaria affair.
Malaria from football tournament in Nigeria
It will be recalled that a member of Libya’s Mini Football team (Ayman Nigresh) had died last Wednesday after returning infected with malaria after taking part in the Second African Minifootball Cup in Nigeria in July. Moreover, most of the squad that had travelled had been infected to some degree, with some in very bad condition.
His death and the infection of the players has caused an understandable furore in Libya as the state failed to treat them quickly and it was revealed that the football team were not inoculated for malaria prior to flying to Nigeria.
The Air Ambulance flight to Rome incident
To make things worse, there was a bureaucratic delay in processing their travel to Rome to receive treatment. Two players were, rightly or wrongly, prevented at the last minute from boarding the Air Ambulance to Rome and two civilians took their places. One civilian is the son of an MP.
Public perception of uncaring, corrupt political elite
The incident has caught the public’s attention with the perception of an uncaring political elite, especially towards the youth, and of nepotism and corruption as a result of connected civilians using an Air Ambulance flight to travel to Europe. Medical flights are not allowed to transport civilian passengers.
Libyan traditional and social media has been all over the incident with the photograph of the red bloodshot eyes of one of the malaria infected footballers touching a public nerve.
Now the blame game
This has led to accusations and finger-pointing exercises between different institutions, including the Libyan Sports Ministry and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), with the former claiming that the latter had advised it that the players did not need inoculating. The NCDC has denied this.
Its with this background that now the Attorney General has stepped in to try to attach some legal responsibility to some of these actions.