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Trial of former Libyan premier opens today

Mahmudi was loyal to Gaddafi until the end

Muammar Gaddafi’s last Prime Minister, Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, who was controversially extradited from Tunisia to Libya to face justice, speaks to journalists during a visit to his prison organised by the authorities in Tripoli in July where he said that he was innocent. Photo: AFP

Muammar Gaddafi’s last Prime Minister, Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, who was controversially extradited from Tunisia to Libya to face justice, speaks to journalists during a visit to his prison organised by the authorities in Tripoli in July where he said that he was innocent. Photo: AFP

The trial of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi last Prime Minister, Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, is to open in the Libyan capital today, the public prosecutor’s spokesman said.

I am ready to be tried by the Libyan people. I am sure of myself and of my innocence

“Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi will appear tomorrow (today) on the occasion of a first case” against him, Taha Baara said, adding that Mahmudi faces charges of “prejudicial acts against the security of the state.”

Mahmudi fled to neighbouring Tunisia in September last year shortly after rebels seized Tripoli, effectively putting an end to more than four decades of iron-fisted Gaddafi rule.

He was extradited to Libya to face justice on June 24, despite warnings from rights groups that he could face the death penalty.

In July, Mahmudi protested his innocence from his prison cell in the Libyan capital.

“I am not guilty, not guilty, not guilty,” he told reporters during a visit to the prison organised by the authorities in an apparent bid to quash rumours he had been tortured. “I am ready to be tried by the Libyan people. I am sure of myself and of my innocence,” he said at the time.

Along with Seif al-Islam, the toppled dictator’s most high-profile son, Mahmudi is one of the few remaining keepers of the many state secrets under Gaddafi, who was killed on October 20 last year.

A physician by training, Mahmudi was loyal to Gaddafi until the end, serving as premier from 2006 up to the final days of his regime.

Mahmudi had appealed his extradition from Tunisia on the grounds that he had applied for refugee status and could face execution if sent back to Libya.

From March 5, 2006 through the war of 2011, Mahmudi was the Secretary of the General People’s Committee, the equivalent of the country’s Prime Minister. He held a series of government posts before that, including Health Minister from 1992 to 1997, as well as shorter stints as Minister of Human Resources and Minister of Infrastructure.

Mahmudi oversaw vast fortunes in the oil-rich nation as chairman of the Libya Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world which was created in 2007 to restructure state enterprises.

He also oversaw the Libyan Oil and Gas Council which was created in 2006. Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam, arrested inside Libya a year ago, is awaiting to hear where he will stand trial for alleged crimes against humanity.

The authorities in Tripoli want him to stand in the dock inside Libya, but the International Criminal Court wants him to face justice in The Hague.

Judges in The Hague heard arguments last month by a lawyer for Libya and representatives of the ICC to decide where Seif, 40, and Gad­dafi’s former spymaster Abdullah Senussi, 63, should be tried.

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