Nigerians and other Africans are being held hostage by the US-NATO backed counter-revolutionary rebels in Libya. The bands of armed gangs have arrested, tortured and murdered hundreds since August 20., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Jun 5, 2012 2:49pm
Russia ‘Outraged’ After Nationals Are Sentenced in Libya
Two dozen Eastern European nationals including two Russians, were convicted and handed harsh sentences in Libya Monday for allegedly helping to target NATO warplanes on behalf of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi before his death — charges that the accused and their home countries strongly deny.
“We were outraged with the court’s decision,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said today, according to Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti. “We believe this is unfair. We will follow the case seriously.”
The group of men, which in addition to the Russians includes 19 Ukrainians and three Belarusians, was reportedly accused of helping pro-Gadhafi troops zero in on NATO planes with ground-to-air missile systems during Libya’s bloody uprising last year. In early 2011, the U.S. led a NATO effort to secure a no-fly zone over the north African nation in a stated mission to protect civilians.
The supposed ringleader of the group, a Russian, was sentenced to life in prison and the others were given 10 years hard labor.
When the trial began in April, a spokesperson for the court called the men “mercenaries” and said they were captured by rebels when Tripoli fell in late August 2011, according to Agence France Presse.
The men claimed they were only in the country to work in the oil industry and AFP reported the Ukrainian ambassador to Libya, Mykola Nahornyi, said they had been forced to work for Gadhafi “under armed threat.” Nahornyi also said the missile systems did not target NATO aircraft and were never fired.
Bogdanov said Russia would work closely with officials from the Ukraine and Belarus to appeal the case on behalf of their citizens, as well as apply other kinds of pressure on Libya to secure their release.
“Of course there will be an appeal and we will be using other levers of influence on the legal proceedings. And we will also use political leverage and our community,” he said.
Trial Of Libya's Ex-Intelligence Chief Opens In Tripoli
6/5/2012 7:40 PM ET
(RTTNews) - The trial of former Libya's external intelligence chief opened at a court in Tripoli Tuesday, with the defendant standing accused of charges connected to the conflict that eventually toppled the regime of Col. Moammar Qadhafi in the north African nation.
The six charges pressed against Abu Zeid Omar Dorda include "mobilizing security forces to fire bullets at the heads and chests of civilians" as well as "preventing, through the use of force and intimidation, the staging of peaceful protests" and arming his ethnic group with the purpose of inciting civil strife during last year's seven-month-long armed revolution.
The court proceedings began with the judge reading out the charges against Dorda, who subsequently denied the allegations. The trial was then adjourned until June 26 after Dorda's lawyer Daw al-Mansouri requested the court for more time to review the case.
Dorda, who was one among Qadhafi's most loyal supporters, was captured by the rebel forces in September 2011, a month after Tripoli fell to the rebel forces. Qadhafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years with an iron fist, was shot dead on October 20 by revolutionary fighters on the outskirts of his hometown Sirte.
Dorda, who has served under Qadhafi as his prime minister and as an envoy to the UN, was appointed as the country's external intelligence chief in 2009. He took over the post from Moussa Koussa, the foreign minister who defected from the Qadhafi regime in March 2011 and fled Libya.
He is now the highest ranking officials from the ousted Qadhafi regime to face trial in Libya. Currently, Qadhafi's son Saif al-Islam is under detention in the town of Zintan after being captured by the rebel forces in Libya's southern desert in November.
The International Criminal Court in the Hague wants to try Saif and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi for atrocities committed by pro-Qadhafi forces during the public unrest against their regime. However, Libya's governing National Transitional Council (NTC) has rejected ICC request for Saif's extradition and pledged to try him in Libya.
Senussi was arrested in Mauritania's capital city of Nouakchott in March, and has since been charged with entering the West African nation illegally. Qadhafi's Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi was detained in Tunisia in September.
Libya has since requested the governments of Mauritania and Tunisia to extradite the two former officials to make them stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity as well as corruption and abuse of power.
The latest development came as Libya is in the midst of preparations for its first ever free polls on June 19 to elect a 200-member assembly, which will oversee the writing of a new constitution and form a government. Although the governing NTC has pledged to hold elections as scheduled, experts say the polls may be delayed due to Libya's unorganized political system.
by RTT Staff Writer
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