Compared to trying to extradite Julian Assange for questioning, this one was child’s play. The Tunisian government has handed over to the Libyan Transitional Council the last Prime Minister to serve under Moammar Qaddafi. Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi faces numerous charges involving repressions, oppressions, corruption, killings of civilians, and anything else the Council can think of, all with the probability of a death sentence. Al-Mahmoudi is now residing in a jail cell in Tripoli, and undergoing medical evaluation.
Al-Mahmoudi was appointed in 2006 and fled the country when Tripoli was falling to the rebels in August. The Libyan transitional government has asked that all members of the former regime be returned to stand trial, but Algeria has granted asylum to anyone who reached their borders and Niger is being very wishy-washy about the issue. Members of Qaddafi’s family and senior military leaders fled to both countries. Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi remains in the custody of the southern tribe that captured him and they have refused to turn him over without guarantees of a fair trial. The transitional government is in conflict with the International Criminal Court over jurisdiction for some of these people, including Saif, because the ICC wants to try them for war crimes. Saif would probably prefer to be handed over to the ICC because they don’t have the death penalty. International human rights groups have expressed fear that the transitional government would act out of revenge instead of recognized standards of justice.
Al-Mahmoudi’s attorney in Tunisia, Mabrouk Khorchid, says neither he nor his client’s family were given any warning that the extradition was going through and condemned the Tunisian government, saying “I believe this is a state crime and is against human rights. This is a sad moment for human rights in Tunisia. I think he’s going to be tortured and treated illegally and believe that those who handed him over bear part of the responsibility.” Khorchid said that al-Mahmoudi was placed in solitary confinement and suffered a nervous breakdown and he was denied access for the last twenty days that al-Mahmoudi was in Tunisia. A Tunisian court approved the extradition in November, but President Moncef al-Marzouki had promised that the extradition would not take place until things had stabilized in Libya.