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Tunisian court delays case of ex-Libyan PM to January, 2012

(Xinhua)

11:08, November 30, 2011

TUNIS, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- A Tunisian appeals court decided Tuesday to delay hearing of the case involving former Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi to Jan. 10 of 2012, the official press agency TAP reported Tuesday.

The court decided to release Mahmoudi, 70, from the Mornaguia prison near the capital Tunis, but it is unclear whether he would stay under house arrest, the report said.

The case was put off at the request of Mahmoudi's defense team which announced that new lawyers from France, Morocco and Egypt will be entrusted with the case, TAP reported.

Former Prime Minister Mahmoudi under the rule of Libya's deceased leader Muammar Gaddafi was convicted on Sept. 22 of illegally entering Tunisia, and was sentenced to six months in prison. The sentence was first annulled, but was later upheld and handed over to the Tozeur appeals court in southern Tunisia for re- examination.

The defense team also asked for the hearing of fresh witnesses who were not informed of Tuesday's hearing, TAP said.

Mahmoudi's lawyers explained their client's absence from the court room by saying that he was faced with death threats.

The Libyan official has written a letter to the court explaining that his absence from the tribunal was due to the deterioration of his health, his advanced age and concerns about his security. But the officiating magistrate said that the tribunal had not been informed of these threats which cannot be proven, TAP reported.

Last week, a court in Tunis confirmed Mahmoudi's extradition to Libya. The final decision will rest with the new Tunisian government which is due to be appointed within days.

Tunisia and Libya are bound by an extradition treaty signed in 1961.

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