The trial of former Libyan prime minister Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi [JURIST news archive] began on Monday, but the hearing was postponed until December 10 to give counsel from both sides additional time to prepare for the case. Mahmoudi served as prime minister under Muammar Gaddafi [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] from 2006 until he fled to Tunisia. Mahmoudi is charged [Reuters report] with corruption and organizing mass rapes during the Libya conflict [JURIST backgrounder]. His lawyer alleged that he has been denied access to his client for substantial periods of time, that Mahmoudi has been held in solitary confinement and that Mahmoudi has suffered a nervous background. Libya's government has stated that it is important for the country to try the previous regime's leaders to demonstrate that the country can provide fair trials and to help in the transition to the new government. If convicted Mahmoudi could face life in prison or execution. Mahmoudi joins Abdullah al-Senussi [JURIST report; JURIST news archive], the former Libyan chief of intelligence, and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi [JURIST report; JURIST news archive] as former officials in the Gaddafi regime that are set to be tried by the Libyan government for their roles in the Libya conflict.
Tunisia extradited [JURIST report] Mahmoudi to Libya in June. The extradition came a month after the Tunisian government announced [JURIST report] that it was going to do so upon Libya's assurance that al-Mahmoudi would have a fair trial. Libya's former prime minister had been under detention despite the Tunisian court dropping charges [JURIST report] against him in February, five months after he was arrested in southern Tunisia last September for illegally entering the country. In January, several human rights groups such as the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy websites] had called on Tunisia not to extradite [JURIST report] al-Mahmoudi to Libya over concerns that he could not get a fair trial in Libya.