A Tunisian appeals court on Tuesday backed the extradition of former Libyan prime minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi, a move Amnesty International had warned would put the man at the risk of “serious human rights violations.”
Earlier, a defense lawyer requested that the examination of Mahmoudi’s extradition be postponed, but the indictment division of the Tunis Court of Appeals turned down the request and went ahead to issue the ruling supporting his extradition.
Mahmoudi was convicted of illegally crossing into Tunisia and imprisoned, but the conviction was overturned.
Tunisian authorities have continued to hold him, however, following an extradition request from the Libyans.
Jamal Arfaoui, a Tunisian political analyst, told Al Arabiya that the court’s decision was political. Arfaoui, quoting Tunisian official sources, said the court took the decision for the sake of the country's “national interests” with Libya.
Mahmoudi’s lawyers say governments are required by the U.N. Convention Against Torture not to extradite individuals to their home countries if they are likely to be victims of human rights violations.
Amnesty International had sent a letter to the Tunisian government urging it not extradite Mahmoudi to Libya, citing risks of “serious human rights violations.”
“We said that Amnesty International believes that if he would be returned to Libya, he would at present face real risks, serious human rights violations, including torture … extra-judicial execution and unfair trial,” AFP quoted the group’s north Africa spokesman James Lynch as saying.
The extrajudicial killing of former Libya strongman Muammar Qaddafi triggered wide international criticism for the country’s new rulers and cast doubts over the country’s ability to respect basic human rights values in the post-Qaddafi era.