Ex Libya PM Claims Tunisian Authorities Tortured Him
In a report released by Human Rights Watch on Friday, former Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, recently extradited back to Libya from Tunisia, claimed that he is being treated well in Libya, but that Tunisian authorities regularly tortured him prior to his extradition. Mahmoudi said guards beat him with “sticks, boots, and a plastic whip,” and alleged that he went on a hunger strike when authorities denied him access to his lawyer. Returning to Libya has been a marked improvement, Mahmoudi said, in contrast to statements by his lawyer last week, who alleged his client suffered broken ribs and a perforated lung at the hands of Libyan authorities. Human Rights Watch, however, could not verify that Mahmoudi was able to speak freely.
Meanwhile, a court in Tunisia sentenced Mohamed-Ali Bouaziz Friday to two months in prison for his role in inciting the riots at the La Marsa Art Festival that killed at least one person. Bouaziz took photos of some of the exhibits he considered blasphemous, and brought them to his mosque to call for a protest. Moueen Gharbi, one of the artists who received death threats, expressed disappointment at the short sentence, saying it will reinforce self-censorship among artists out of fear of extremist retribution.
Also, Tunisia’s government rejected assertions of obstructing freedom of the press after Tunisia’s independent media reform commission shut down in protest. A spokesman for the prime minister said that no one party in the government controls censorship, and in turn accused the media of “playing the role of the opposition.”