TUNIS, Tunisia: Tunisia extradited Libya's former prime minister to his country on Sunday, despite concerns by international human rights groups that he could risk death or torture there.
Al-Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi was sent home by a special plane from Al Aouina military airport near Tunis, the capital, a presidential aide told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in keeping with government protocol. A close associate of Tunisia's largest ruling party confirmed the extradition, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
Later Sunday, Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib held a news conference in Tripoli to announce Al-Mahmoudi's return. "Today, he was delivered by the Tunisian government, and he's now kept in prison managed by the Justice Ministry," sald el-Keib, adding the former Libyan prime minister will be tried for alleged crimes against the Libyan people.
Al-Mahmoudi had been arrested in September for illegally crossing the frontier into Tunisia as he tried to flee to Algeria, where members of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's family had sought refuge.
Libya had been clamoring for the repatriation of Al-Mahmoudi to answer for crimes it says he committed during Gadhafi's regime. But officials from the former regime have not fared well in the hands of the Libyan rebels, with Gadhafi and one of his sons being executed upon capture last year.
In January, 15 Tunisian and international human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, signed a statement opposing Al-Mahmoudi's extradition, saying he risked death or torture if he was returned to Libya.
That concern had led to disagreement within Tunisia's government about whether Al-Mahmoudi should be sent home.
Last month, Tunisia's presidential spokesman, Adnan Mancer, said that would only happen if his life isn't in danger there and he can be guaranteed a fair trial.
On Sunday, Mancer refused to confirm the extradition, saying: "We were not aware of any decision to that effect."