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Libyan General Secretary Near Death in Second Week of Hunger Strike

Posted: 2012-03-12
From: Mathaba
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An appalling situation is unfolding in Tunisia

Mathaba News is appalled to learn belatedly after having been misinformed by Tunisian sources, that the legitimate Prime Minister of Libya, the General Secretary of the General People's Congress of the Libyan Jamahiriya has been on hunger strike since two weeks and is nearing death.

On March 8th, the lawyer of Baghdadi Mahmoudi, warned that his client's health has deteriorated after he entered the second week of his hunger strike.

Mahmoudi was arrested by Tunisian authorities in September 2011 for crossing the Tunisian border illegally. It is a clear violation of all international legal norms that someone running for his life, persecuted by armed gangs, should be said to be entering a country "illegally." Since then, he has been held in Mornaguia jail, located in  Tunis. Mahmoudi began his strike to protest his continued detention and the Tunisian judiciary's refusal to hear his case.

Bachir Essid, one of Mahmoudi's legal representatives and the president of the International Justice Committee for the Defense of Persecuted and Displaced Inside and Outside Libya, stated on his Facebook page that his client "is close to dying."

"His body has become dehydrated since he began his hunger strike over a week ago. He was not taken to hospital in spite of our demands," Essid stated. He declared that he was holding Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and the current government responsible for Dr Mahmoudi's fate. Essid furthermore demanded that his client be released and provided with medical care immediately.

Mehdi Bouawaja, Mahmoudi's second lawyer and member of the committee for the defense of Baghdadi Mahmoudi, said he was shocked to see the extent to which his client's health had deteriorated. "I have not seen him in ten days, but when I saw him today I did not realize his situation was this bad. He suffers from diabetes among others [illnesses], but he kept taking his medicine," he added.

"I tried to convince him to stop his hunger strike - to no avail," he explained.

Mabrouk Korshid, another lawyer involved in Mahmoudi's case, stated that there is no legal justification for Mahmoudi's continued detention. "My client is being held hostage," he declared.

Bouawaja suspects an exchange deal involving Mahmoudi was struck during Beji Caid-Essebsi's premiership. "I suspect that the Essbsi government might have sold him to the Libyan National Transitional Council. The current Tunisian government of Hamadi Jebali might have found itself stuck not knowing what to do with him," he speculated. Bouawaja expressed hope that president Marzouki would release his client immediately.

Imed Daymi, secretary to the Tunisian presidency, stated that the Tunisian president has sent a delegation, headed by lawyer and consultant to the Tunisian president, Samir Ben Amor, to check on Mahmoudi. "They will deliver a letter addressed to him by president Marzouki," he affirmed.

Back in February a month ago on February 14th, a Tunisian court had cleared the Libyan former prime minister Dr Baghdadi al-Mahmudi on the charge he had crossed illegally into Tunisia as he fled Libya last year, his lawyer said.

"The court... has acquitted Mahmudi and so we are demanding his immediate release," lawyer Mabrouk Kourchid said after the hearing in the southern city of Tozeur.

"There is no legal reason to keep him in prison," he said. "(Mahmudi) should be released because his detention is illegal and the reasons are purely political."

Mahmudi, 70, is appealing extradition on the grounds that he has applied for refugee status and could face execution if sent back to his homeland.

The former prime minister, who has been detained since his September 21 arrest on the southwestern border with Algeria, had appeared in court in February after being transferred from prison by ambulance.

Although his extradition has been approved by Tunisian courts, the country's interim president Fouad Mebazaa last year declined to sign extradition papers and his successor Moncef Marzouki has told Tripoli he would be returned when conditions were in place for a "fair trial".

Libya is ruled by armed al-Qaida gangs and violent extremists, who have hoisted absurd charges of rape against the former Prime Minister, in an attempt to have him extradited to Libya, which is currently under an appalling regime of wide-spread human rights abuses.

Last month, a Tunisian lawyer for Dr Baghdadi stated that "Tunisian authorities claim that the detention of the former Libyan prime minister is to ensure his security. That's just an excuse," adding that the defence will file an official demand for Mahmudi's release.

Since Mahmoudi Baghdadi's legal acquittal last month, he has thus been held illegally in Tunisia, which led him to commence a hunger strike. World human rights organizations and media have been silent on his situation, and a Conference of Jurists and international lawyers in Tunisia which was covered live on March 10 was forcibly closed by the Tunisian authorities.

The Secretary-General of the International People's Conference Organization which advocates for direct democracy and world people's conferences to be held on Crimes Against Humanity, has called upon all those who are appalled by the treatment of Dr Mahmoudi Baghdadi to join the organization in condemning his detention and lack of medical care by the government authorities in Tunis.

Includes reporting from AllAfrica.com and Agence France Presse.

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