Former Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi has placed the Tunisian government between a rock and a hard place as Libyan revolutionaries are demanding his extradition while his lawyers are calling for him to be granted political asylum for fear of unfair trial or summary execution in case he returns to Libya.
Mahmudi’s case is unfortunately being dealt with politically and not legally or humanitarianly, said member of the ex-premier’s defense team, Mabrouk Kourchid.
“The Tunisian authorities are collaborating with their Libyan counterparts and diplomatic ties are taken into consideration when dealing with Mahmudi’s case,” he said in a press conference Saturday.
Extraditing the former prime minister, Kourchid added, would be a disgraceful action on the part of the new democracy in Tunisia since the fate that awaits him in Libya could be described as a crime against humanity.
“It is very likely that Mahmudi will be executed if he goes back to Libya,” said Kouchid.
His lawyer also added that Mahmudi, who is currently detained in a prison outside the capital Tunis, went on hunger strike three days ago.
“His health condition is deplorable now.”
Mahmudi, who fled to the Tunisian island Djerba in August, was arrested on September 21 and charged with illegal entry into Tunisia. He was found guilty and handed six months in jail but acquitted on September 27 by the court of appeals. However, he was kept in detention following an extradition request sent by the Libyan interim government the following day.
According to Ezzeddine Arfaoui, another member of Mahmudi’s defense team, Libyan authorities are expected to level three charges at his client.
“He will most likely be charged with embezzlement of public funds, possession of weapons, and attempted murder,” he said at the same press conference.
Arfaoui called upon the Tunisian judiciary to carry out a careful examination of the extradition request and make the right decision.
“It should also be made sure that the extradition conforms to Tunisian law and international conventions on the extradition of foreign nationals.”
The Tunisian government recognized Libya’s National Transitional Council on August 22 following the fall of the capital Tripoli and vowed to collaborate with the interim government as far as security issues are concerned.
(This article was translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid.)