First Published: 2013-01-14


Libyan court adjourns trial of Mahmudi on defense request


Defence lawyers ask for delay to allow time to summon witnesses as judge demands that all witnesses testify in single hearing.


Middle East Online

One of few remaining keepers of state secrets of Gathafi's regime

TRIPOLI - A Libyan court Monday adjourned to February 11 the trial of Moamer Gathafi's last premier Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, accused of killing civilians and financial crimes.

Defence lawyers had asked for the delay to allow time to summon witnesses and the judge demanded that all witnesses testify in a single hearing.

"We have two witnesses in custody, Mohamed Abubakar Dhib and Abdelati al-Obeidi, who have been informed by the prosecution. We have other witnesses outside that we could not inform in time," a defence lawyer said.

Dhib was a deputy premier and Obeidi a foreign minister during Gathafi's rule.

Along with Seif al-Islam, the toppled leader's most prominent son, Mahmudi is one of the few remaining keepers of the many state secrets of Gathafi's regime.

A doctor by training, Mahmudi was loyal to Gathafi until the end, serving as premier from 2006 up to the final days of his regime, while also overseeing vast fortunes in the oil-rich nation.

Mahmudi fled to neighbouring Tunisia in September 2011 shortly after rebels seized Tripoli and effectively put an end to more than four decades of iron-fisted Gathafi rule.

He was extradited to Libya on June 24 last year, despite warnings from human rights groups that he could face the death penalty, and has protested his innocence to journalists visiting his prison.

"I am not guilty, not guilty, not guilty," he said at the time.

On Monday, he appeared in the dock, dressed in traditional Libyan costume.

He was flanked by two co-defendants, Al-Mabruk Zahmul and Amer Salah Tirfas, who managed a trade and investment company run by Seif al-Islam.

The three are accused of "abusing public funds" and committing acts aiming to "unjustly kill people" during the 2011 uprising that led to Gathafi's ouster and death.

They allegedly funnelled 19 million euros ($25 million) to private accounts in Tunisia, and used it for logistical support to loyalist forces as they sought to crush the anti-Gathafi revolt.

Zahmul's lawyer presented four witnesses on Monday, including a former officer under Gathafi.

Monday's testimony sought to establish whether Zahmul, in charge of marketing at a state oil company, Brega Petroleum Marketing Company (BPMC), ordered the supply of oil and gas to pro-Gathafi units during the war.

His defence sought to prove he made no direct orders to that effect.


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