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Tunisia Seeks Guarantees Before Extraditing Former Libyan PM

Tunisia's new president Moncef Marzouki, left, is accompanied by Libyan Transitional National Council chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil after his arrival in Tripoli, Libya, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012.
Tunisia's new president Moncef Marzouki, left, is accompanied by Libyan Transitional National Council chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil after his arrival in Tripoli, Libya, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012.

Tunisia's visiting president says his country would extradite former Libyan prime minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi to Tripoli to face charges of abuse of office, if Libya would guarantee his physical safety and a fair trial.

President Moncef Marzouki told a joint news conference with Libyan leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil that the ex-prime minister could be handed over for trial in Libya "after establishing a democratic state and civil institutions."

Mahmudi fled across the border to Tunisia soon after Moammar Gadhafi's rule collapsed in August. Tunisian courts have twice approved Libya's extradition request for the former leader, who is fighting against it on the grounds that he applied for refugee status in Tunisia.

Amnesty International has urged Libya's neighbor not to extradite Mahmudi, saying he risks being subjected to "serious human rights violations."

The former prime minister was the highest-ranking member of Gadhafi's inner circle in detention until Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, was captured by forces loyal to Libya's new rulers in November. Libya insists it will try Seif al-Islam even though it does not yet have a functioning judicial system.

Moammar Gadhafi himself was captured and killed in Libya in October under questionable circumstances.

In a separate development Monday, Libya published a draft electoral law that bans candidates for office who held positions of responsibility under Gadhafi or benefited financially from his rule.

The bill bans former officials from running for office who are accused of torturing Libyans or embezzling public funds, active members of the Revolutionary Guard and opposition fighters who made peace with Gadhafi.

It also gives women 20 seats in the 200 member national assembly. The election is scheduled for June.

National Transitional Council chief Jalil stressed that the proposed legislation is merely a draft and still could undergo changes.

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