Gadhafi’s Last Prime Minister At Risk Of Death From Torture: Tunis Lawyer

 @MayaErgas
on February 27 2013 3:59 PM
Libya’s former Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi
Libya’s former Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi Reuters

The last Libyan prime minister to serve under deposed dictator Col. Muammar Gadhafi, Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, is being held in a Libyan prison and is in critical condition after being tortured, AFP reported Wednesday.

Mahmudi has been in prison since June 2012, after he was arrested in Tunisia and extradited back to Libya. He had fled to Tunisia in September 2011, after the rebels seized Tripoli and a month before Gadhafi was killed. He was put on trial in November 2011 for “prejudicial acts against the security of the state and financial crimes,” the prosecutor general’s spokesman told AFP.

Mahmudi’s Tunisian lawyer, Mabrouk Kourchid, told reporters Wednesday that Mahmudi was “in critical condition as a result of the torture he has suffered,” and added “he risks dying.”

“He has been tortured for the last 45 days,” Kourchid told Reuters. “We are very worried about the state he is in, we will launch an international campaign to save his life.”

Kourchid did not elaborate what kind of torture or interrogation Mahmudi was undergoing, nor did he reveal how he got the information.

A Libyan prison official denied claims of Mahmudi’s fragile state. "I saw him last night and he is well," Mahfoud al-Bidi told Reuters. "Do not believe what has been said. His Tunisian lawyer has not seen him since he left Tunis and he said he has no way of contacting him."

Mahmudi has always protested his innocence. He served as prime minister under Gadhafi from 2006 until the colonel was deposed.

Mahmudi’s trial is happening in Libya despite doubts from international human rights groups of Libya's ability to provide fair and impartial justice to members of the former dictatorial regime. On Feb. 11, Human Rights Watch released a statement encouraging Libyan officials to focus on improving their justice systems.

“Nearly a year-and-a-half after the overthrow of Gaddafi, Libya is still plagued by serious rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests, torture, and deaths in detention,” HRW said.

“Lasting security requires a functioning justice system,” said Hanan Salah, Libya researcher at Human Rights Watch, in the statement. “Those who care about a truly stable and democratic Libya should be building the security services and justice system hand in hand.”

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