Libya denies ex-premier beaten

2012-06-26 22:32

Tripoli - Libyan medics and officials on Tuesday denied claims by the lawyer of Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, Muammar Gaddafi's last premier, that he was beaten and hospitalised after his extradition from neighbouring Tunisia.

"I deny it completely," Hisham al-Atri, a doctor who daily visits the detention centre in the suburbs of Tripoli where Mahmudi is being held, told AFP.

"I check on him every day. There were no signs of beatings. He only has diabetes and no other condition," he added, saying Mahmudi was given a full medical evaluation on arrival.

"He was psychologically nervous when he first arrived ... but yesterday [Monday] and today [Tuesday] he is better," Atri said.

The doctor said prisoners are checked on daily and that specialists are on call in the case of any eventuality.

On Sunday, Tunisia extradited Mahmudi, who served as the late Gaddafi's last prime minister, stirring controversy.

His French lawyer Marcel Ceccaldi said on Monday that Mahmudi had been beaten up on arrival in Libya and hospitalised with a haemorrhage.

'Gangster methods'

"This is an extradition towards a rogue country by a government using gangster methods," Ceccaldi said in Paris.

But Libya's deputy justice minister also rejected the claims.

"I completely deny reports that Baghdadi al-Mahmudi was assaulted," Khalifa Ashur told AFP.

"He is being treated well in line with international standards and it is impossible for such an act to occur. He is in a safe place and his guards were carefully selected," he said.

French website Mediapart reported that Mahmudi was interrogated by Abdelhakim Belhaj, a former jihadist who resigned in May as military commander in Tripoli to run as a candidate in the upcoming elections for a national assembly.

Belhaj categorically denied any involvement in such an incident.

"I didn't see him at all or go to him," Belhaj told AFP.

He added that he was in Benghazi on Sunday, the day of Mahmudi's arrival, and that he had returned to Tripoli on Monday.

"I have no relation with him and I don't want to see him. I am not an investigator and I have nothing to do with prisoners," he stressed.

Public prosecutor

Ashur, the deputy justice minister, said the public prosecutor's office had been in charge of Mahmudi since his arrival and insisted he would be given a fair trial.

The public prosecutor's office took charge of Mahmudi "as soon as he arrived" and preliminary investigations were already underway, Ashur said.

"Many charges have been brought against him, including ones relating to financial corruption and crimes committed after the February 17 revolution."

Mahmudi would enjoy a fair and public trial, he added.

The ex-premier's extradition came as a boon for the ruling National Transitional Council, which is keen to prove that it can conduct fair and safe trials for high pro-file figures.

But the decision plunged neighbouring Tunisia into a political crisis because the extradition was opposed by President Moncef Marzouki.