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Libyan Justice Not Biased Against Foreigners, Says Attorney

  • Peter Clottey

A Tripoli-based attorney has denied reports that proceedings in Libya’s criminal justice system often fail to meet international standards.

Mohammed Tumi, managing partner of the Tumi law firm, said, despite criticism, Libya’s judiciary system is not biased against foreign nationals.

“I strongly believe that the Libyan judiciary system is one of the best judiciary systems in the world. Whoever is stating that the Libyan judiciary system is not fair and is not just, I believe is not saying the truth. From an experience point of view, as Tumi law firm, every single day we file against government bodies and we are treated fairly before the court. And, we won so many judgments in favor of foreign companies,” he said.

Libyan leader Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi1 (file)

Libyan leader Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi1 (file)

Amnesty International said foreign nationals are at a disadvantage in the Libyan legal system.

This comes after the rights group condemned the reported execution of 18 foreigners over the weekend. It also expressed fear that the accused did not have fair trials.

Local media reported that the 18 accused were convicted of murder and were executed by firing squad on Sunday.

The Cerene newspaper reports that over 200 people are currently on death row in Libya. Analysts say a majority of those on death row are mostly foreigners who they say are likely to face the death penalty. They also contend that the foreigners are often not provided interpretation services during trials, which are usually conducted in Arabic.

But, attorney Tumi denied there are no translators for foreign nationals in legal proceedings.

“Translator is one of the requirements before criminal cases, for criminal cases for foreigners, or even in civil cases, as a matter of fact, [there must be] a sworn translator. And, it is also stated in our criminal procedures that is it is one of the requirements to have a translator present during the trials,” Tumi said.

Libyan authorities have yet to officially identify the executed 18. But, the Cerene newspaper reported that 14 of the accused were executed in the capital, Tripoli, while the other four were executed in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city.

Tumi said there are ongoing debates to finally repeal the death penalty.

“Even the high authorities in the country ... they are not in favor of the death sentence. But, as far as [I know, it’s] still applicable. The death sentence is very rare here in Libya. The government is thinking about abolishing the death penalty. Instead, they will have life sentences as anywhere else. This will be very soon [because] there is a big discussion and there would be an amendment to the criminal law,” Tumi said.

The executed 18 were believed to be foreign nationals from Egypt, Nigeria and Chad.

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