TRIPOLI: Tunisia has extradited former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s prime minister to Libya, a Libyan security official said yesterday, making him the first senior official to be sent back for trial under the country’s transitional leadership.
Defence ministry official Mohammed al-Ahwal said that a helicopter transferred Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi (left) to Tripoli yesterday.
“Mahmoudi is now in Tripoli and we are holding him in a prison,” Ahwal said.
Mahmoudi served as the Libyan dictator’s prime minister from 2006 until he fled to neighbouring Tunisia around the time that rebel fighters took the capital Tripoli in August.
His extradition could establish a precedent for other countries who have given refuge to or arrested members of Gaddafi’s old entourage.
Tripoli considers it a matter of national pride and a measure of the country’s transformation that trials of people like Mahmoudi and Gaddafi’s imprisoned son Saif al-Islam be held in Libya.
But human rights groups question whether its justice system can meet the standards of international law and say he should be handed over to the ICC instead.
A Tunisian court ruled as far back as November that Mahmoudi should be extradited. But Tunisian President Moncef al-Marzouki later said the handover would not happen until the situation in Libya had stabilised and Mahmoudi could be guaranteed a fair trial after Gaddafi himself was killed by rebels and his rotting corpse left on display.