Baghdadi Mahmoudi Faces Torture and Death in Libya
by Stephen Lendman
Mahmoudi is a physician. He also served as Deputy Prime Minister before becoming Prime Minister and General Secretary of the General People’s Congress of the Libyan Jamahiriya. He assumed that post in March 2006.
Mathaba explained that he wasn’t Gaddafi’s prime minister. He served as “legally elected head of the people’s power in Libya, the People’s Congresses, which Gaddafi as the leader of the revolution as an individual often held very different views from, but ultimately was the decision-maker for the people themselves.”
Mahmoudi also held other posts.
They included High Council for Oil & Gas and Libyan Investment Authority head, General People’s Committee for Production Affairs Secretary-General, Minister of Health and Social Security, Minister of Human Resources Affairs, and Minister for Infrastructure, Urban Planning and Environment Affairs.
As deputy Secretary-General of Libya’s General People’s Committee for Production Affairs, he oversaw two large infrastructure projects.
One was Libya’s Great Man-Made River. It was an extraordinary effort to develop the world’s largest fossil water system for all Libyans. It’s an ocean beneath Libya’s desert.
At 2007 consumption rates, it has enough water to last 1,000 years. Gaddafi called it the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
He wanted it developed to provide all Libyans with free fresh water for human consumption, irrigation and other needs. When fully operational, he hoped to make the desert green as Libya’s flag.
Imagine what occupiers plan for it now. Gaddafi’s dream died with him. Mahmoudi’s now threatened.
In August 2011, he fled to Tunisia for his safety. In September, Tunisian border police arrested him. Charged with illegally entering the country, he was sentenced to six months in prison.
At the time, the judgment was overturned. However, Tunisian authorities held him pending Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) extradition request.
On November 8, 2011, The New York Times headlined “Qaddafi’s Ex-Prime Minister Ordered Extradited to Libya,” saying:
A Tunisian appeals court approved extraditing him. A precise date wasn’t set. The ruling came despite human rights groups and other governments voicing concerns for his safety.
Amnesty International (AI) petitioned Tunisian authorities on his behalf. AI’s North African representative James Lynch feared he’d “face real risks, serious human rights violations, including torture, extrajudicial execution and unfair trial.”
On May 23, AI petitioned again. Its Secretary-General, Salil Shetty, wrote Tunisia’s President, Moncef Marzouki. He urged him to block sending him back, saying:
“Amnesty International takes note of the statement made on May 23 by the Presidency of the Republic’s spokesman that Baghdadi Mahmoudi will not be extradited to Libya if his life is in danger and that he will not be guaranteed a fair trial.”
“As you may be aware, Baghdadi Mahmoudi started a hunger strike three days ago to protest against his extradition, following statement by Tunisian Justice Minister Noureddine Bhiri asserting that the extradition of Mahmoudi may happen in a matter of days or weeks.”
He warned that “as a member of Colonel Mouammar Kadhafi’s government, Mahmoudi faces a real risk of serious human rights violation if forcibly returned to Libya, including arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trial and extrajudicial execution.”
Under NTC authority, AI documented systematic torture, ill-treatment, and at least 20 deaths in custody.
“On the basis of this information and on the ongoing patterns of human rights abuses in Libya,” said Shetty, (AI) strongly believes that (Mahmoudi) should not be forcibly returned to Libya for the present time.”
In late May, Tunisia’s justice minister, Noureddine Bouheiri, said extradition could happen in “days or weeks. The government decided to hand over Mahmoudi and all that remains is the completion of some organizational issues.”
Part of the deal involves Libya extending Tunisia a large loan. In other words, at the behest of Washington, Marzouki was bribed to comply. The Obama administration wants all former Jamahiriya officials eliminated.
In NTC custody, Mahmoudi faces torture and death. Extraditing him makes Tunisia culpable.
Bechir Essid serves as President of the International Justice Committee for the Defense of Persecuted and Displaced Inside and Outside Libya. Representing Mahmoudi, he said:
“The Tunisian authorities show that they do not respect human rights and have done away with humanitarian principles.”
Mahmoudi began hunger striking for justice. Doing so risked his life. More on that below.
He committed no crimes. Returning him to Libya sentences him to death. Puppet regime justice doesn’t exist. Guilt by accusation is policy. Washington directs things behind the scenes.
Mahmoudi stands ready to defend himself if given a chance outside Libya in a fair tribunal. NTC policy doesn’t tolerate fairness.
Its tribunals assure convictions. Mahmoudi “categorically den(ies) all allegations of (his) participation or the participation of others in the commission of crimes against humanity or war crimes, corruption, and any other crimes allegedly committed in Libya or elsewhere.”
In today’s Libya, innocence is no legitimate defense. Police states don’t allow it. Washington-directed ones assure disposing of Mahmoudi by any means, including killing him.
Earlier he began hunger striking. Last March, Mathaba headlined “Libyan General Secretary Near Death in Second Week of Hunger Strike,” saying:
On March 8, his lawyer, Bachir Essid, “warned that (Mahmoudi’s) health ha(d) deteriorated after he entered the second week of his hunger strike.”
At the time, he was “close to dying.” He was denied proper medical care. The current Tunisian government appears no better than the previous one it replaced.
Another Mahmoudi lawyer, Mehdi Bouawaja, said he was shocked to see his client’s condition. At the time, he hadn’t seen him in days, but when visited he discovered his precarious condition. He suffers from diabetes and other illnesses.
Attorney Mabrouk Korshid also is trying to help. He said no legal justification exists to hold Mahmoudi. He’s “being held hostage,” he explained.
Bouawaja commented on the deal made to extradite him, saying:
“I suspect (he’s been) sold to the (NTC).”
Attorneys appealed his extradition. A Tunisian court cleared him of all charges. Yet he remains in prison at age 70 in poor health. The appeal also included grounds of likely torture and death if sent back. As a result, he applied for refugee status. International law mandates his right to get it. Tunisia refuses.
NTC puppets spuriously charged Mahmoudi with offenses he didn’t commit, including rape.
On May 30, Mathaba headlined “New World Order: Imprison, Torture Democrats,” saying:
Thuggish puppet officials beholden to Washington serve as Libya’s interim government. They mock Jamahiriya justice. They enforce police state harshness. Anyone in their custody faces torture, imprisonment, and/or death.
Earlier, Mahmoudi nearly died after days of hunger striking. Nonetheless, he risked it to highlight the injustice he faces. He remains frail and ill.
“Dr Baghdadi is very well known, an academic and gentle soul, yet he has been held incommunicado since Tunisian authorities arrested him on charges of ‘entering the country illegally’ which were shown to be false by (his) lawyers, after which he should have been released or allowed to travel to another country for safety.”
The “Secretary-General of International People’s Conference Organization (IPCO) to deliver a letter to the Australian government demanding intervention under its obligations to international human rights principles which know no borders or culpability.”
Since war began last year, over a million Libyans and foreign workers fled for safety. Neighboring countries like Niger refused extradition requests. Agreeing is tantamount to complicity in crimes against humanity.
In June 2011, IPCO was established. It represents Jamahiriya justice. It supports calls for Mahmoudi’s release. It categorically opposes extradition.
As of now, he remains in Tunisia. Efforts to save him continue. He deserves that much and more.
Washington-controlled puppets want him dead. Extraditing him makes Tunisian authorities complicit in their crimes.
Hopefully world pressure will stop them. Little time remains. Justice struggles always face headwinds. Against imperial Washington, they’re gale force.
All the more reason to fight back. Battling against injustice deserves at least an even chance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.