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Tunisia to extradite Libya ex-PM for trial

The Tunisian government announced Tuesday that the country would extradite former Libyan prime minister Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi [JURIST news archive], after Libya guaranteed that al-Mahmoudi would have a fair trial. The conditions [Tripoli Post report] that Tunisia set for al-Mahmoudi's extradition to Libya is the guarantee that al-Mahmoudi have the right to a defense and that his human rights are respected. Al-Mahmoudi was the head of government under the regime of Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive], who was killed last October by opposition forces. Al-Mahmoudi has been in Tunisian custody since his arrest [AP report] in southern Tunisia last September while trying to get to Algeria. Al-Mahmoudi's lawyer along with various human rights groups, worry that the former prime minister will be executed [AFP report] if he is returned to Libya. Al-Mahmoudi began a hunger strike last Saturday after hearing that the Tunisian prime minister was in favor of his extradition. Libya currently has two extradition requests seeking the return of al-Mahmoudi to stand trial in Libya. Assuming that Libya meets the necessary guarantees, al-Mahmoudi's extradition will likely take place within the next few weeks.

In February, a Tunisian court dropped charges [JURIST report] against al-Mahmoudi for illegally entering the country, but the former figurehead remains in jail until a final decision on his extradition to Libya. The court dismissed the charges after determining that al-Mahmoudi had lawfully crossed into Tunisia from Libya. Al-Mahmoudi's lawyer has indicated that he is attempting to have him released from custody while awaiting the extradition process. In January, the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch [advocacy websites], among other human rights groups, urged Tunisia not to extradite [JURIST report] al-Mahmoudi because he would be "at a real risk for torture" if returned to Libya. At the time, reports indicated that al-Mahmoudi feared for his safety and claimed to be the sole possessor of Libyan state secrets following Gaddafi's death in October [JURIST reports].

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