Tunisian rights groups oppose Libyan ex-PM's extradition
TUNIS - Fifteen rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, urged Tunisia's president on Friday not to allow Libya's ex-premier Al-Baghdadi Al-Mahmudi to be extradited as he faces the death sentence at home.
"We ask the president of the republic not to authorise the extradition to the new Libyan authorities if they do not guarantee a fair trial," Sondes Garbouj, the president of Amnesty International in Tunisia, told a news conference.
"We refuse the extradition of Mr Al-Mahmudi so long as the death penalty still exists in Libya. The new Tunisia cannout extradite a person threatened with execution," added Radhia Nasraoui, president of the Tunisian Association against Torture.
The 70-year-old Mahmudi, prime minister until the final days of the late Moamer Gathafi's regime, was arrested on September 21 on Tunisia's southwestern border with Algeria and jailed for entering the country illegally.
He has since been detained in the Mornaguia prison, near Tunis.
Tunisian courts twice authorised his extradition on November 8 and 25, but the country's then interim president Fouad Mebazaa declined to sign extradition papers and left that decision to his elected successor, Moncef Marzouki.
Mahmudi's lawyer, Beshir Essid, called at the conference for his "immediate release, above all since the interim president refused to extradite him."
However, Marzouki on January 2 promised during a visit to Tripoli to turn Mahmudi over to the new authorities in Libya on condition he was "guaranteed a fair trial and that there will be no physical harm".
Tunisia's new authorities "must take responsibility for the deterioration in Mr Baghdadi's state of health if he does not receive necessary care and is maintained in mediocre conditions," Essid told the meeting.
Fifteen rights organisations were represented, including the Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights and New York-based Human Rights Watch.
According to the lawyer, Tunisia's president, prime minister and justice minister have all turned down requests to meet him so he can present Mahmudi's case to them.
His defence team says that he fears for his life if he is returned to Libya as he is the sole holder of Libyan state secrets since Gathafi was killed on October 20.