Libya ex-PM goes on hunger-strike to protest extradition

Mahmudi prefers hunger to homecoming

TUNIS - Former Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, detained after fleeing to Tunisia, has gone on hunger strike to demand he be freed, his lawyer Mabrouk Kourchid said Thursday.
Mahmudi, Libya's prime minister until the last days of Moamer Gathafi's regime, was arrested last week on Tunisia's southwestern border with Algeria.
A Tunisian court swiftly sentenced him to six months in prison after finding him guilty of illegal entry but that decision was overruled on Tuesday by a higher court following an appeal by his lawyers.
On Wednesday, the new Libyan authorities issued a summons against him.
Mahmudi "began his hunger strike on Wednesday evening which will last until he is freed and to protest a summons against him issued in Tripoli," his lawyer said after meeting his client in jail just outside Tunis.
"His continued detention in jail after the charge was dismissed is illegal, it is a manoeuvre designed to allow the summons to be issued," he said.
"There is no legal reason which can justify the detention of a sick man who has already been cleared," he added.
A spokesman for the Tunisian justice ministry said the authorities issued a detention order against Mahmudi "following receipt of a request from Interpol (that be he held) based on the summons issued by the Libyan authorities."
The detention order is provisional and cannot last longer than 30 days, pending submission of an extradition request, the spokesman added.
Mahmudi's arrest was the second in Tunisia of a senior Libyan official since the fall of the regime run by Gathafi, who has been on the run since rebels took the capital Tripoli on August 23.
On September 7, Major Khuildi Hamidi, one of Gathafi's fellow travellers, was arrested at Tunis-Carthage international airport while he was preparing to board a flight for Casablanca in Morocco.
Hamidi, who participated in the Libyan coup d'etat of 1969 and long headed the military intelligence services in his country, was also tried for illegal entry into Tunisia but was acquitted. The acquittal was upheld on appeal last Thursday.