Libya ex-leader accused of power abuse

2012-12-12 07:55
Libya's ex-leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil. (File, AFP)

Libya's ex-leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil. (File, AFP)

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Benghazi - Libyan military prosecutors on Tuesday accused ex-leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil of abusing his power, after grilling him over the death of a general who led rebels last year, a prosecution official said.

"Mustafa Abdel Jalil was accused of abuse of power and undermining national unity," by military prosecutors who questioned him in the eastern town of Marj over the 2011 assassination of Abdel Fatah Yunes, Majdi al-Baraasi told AFP.

Abdel Jalil was chairperson of the National Transitional Council (NTC), a political body representing the rebels during last year's conflict, which ended in the ouster and death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Prosecutors allowed him to "go free on bail but a travel ban was issued against him until he appears before a military court in Benghazi on February 20", added Baraasi, who took part in the interrogation.

They have also summoned for questioning Mahmud Jibril, who was the head of the NTC's executive committee at the time and who played a critical role winning international support for the Libyan revolution, the same source said.

Jibril now leads a liberal coalition of political parties.

General Yunes, the highest-ranking military figure to join the uprising last year, was killed in July 2011 in murky circumstances after being recalled from the front line for questioning.

Bullet-ridden body

Abdel Jalil announced Yunes's death on 29 July 2011, saying that he had been shot and killed by an armed group as he was brought in to be questioned by a panel of judges over the military situation.

His burned and bullet-ridden body was found on the outskirts of Benghazi.

Members of the powerful Al-Obeidi tribe to which the general belonged warned last month that they would take justice into their own hands if the country's new authorities continued to "neglect the case".

They openly accuse Abdel Jalil of playing a role in the assassination.

Recently, the Yunes family's lawyer Youssef Aguila told AFP that Abdel Jalil could be accused of "inciting murder" because "he was responsible for the political phase [leading to the fall of the Gaddafi regime.]"

A hearing has been set for 20 February 2013 and the attorney general could still extend the investigation to other persons suspected of being involved in the general's assassination.

At least thirteen people have been formally accused of involvement in the affair, including Judge Jumaa al-Jazwi, who signed the order to arrest Yunes. Jazwi was himself assassinated in June this year.

Yunes played a key role in the 18-20 February liberation of Benghazi, cradle of the anti-Gaddafi revolution, where he brokered a ceasefire at a besieged military base in the centre of the city, permitting loyalists to flee.

Little faith

But despite his early defection, many rebels put little faith in the general, who was part of the circle of officers that helped bring Gaddafi to power in a 1969 bloodless coup.

Some blamed him directly for lack of progress in the Nato-backed rebel offensive against Gaddafi’s regime. It took eight months of pitched battles across the country before the veteran strongman was finally toppled.

The NTC at the time set up a committee to investigate Yunes's death, which has also been blamed on radical Islamists. The case was later referred to a civil court, which then passed it on to the military court.

Abdel Jalil, 60, was justice minister until his defection in February 2011. He led the opposition during the war and guided Libya through a turbulent transition that culminated in July with democratic elections.

Read more on:    mustafa abdel jalil  |  muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa
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