Magharebia (Washington DC)

Libya: Abdel Jalil Case Sparks Controversy

Tripoli — A Benghazi military court on Wednesday (December 19th) withdrew its jurisdiction over the Abdel Fattah Younes case.

Younes, who served as Moamer Kadhafi's interior minister before switching sides and joining the rebels, was shot dead on July 28th, 2011, while returning to Benghazi from Brega.

The armed forces commander had been summoned from the front lines by former National Transitional Council (TNC) chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil. He was killed while on his way to the meeting.

The military court was taken off the case "because of the turn taken by the investigation into Mustafa Abdel Jalil", presiding judge Colonel Abdullah al-Saiti told AFP.

Al-Saiti said that the file was sent to the High Authority of Military Justice to appoint a new tribunal.

He did not give details on the reasons that led the court to make such a decision.

Speaking to the press on Thursday, Justice Minister Salah al-Mirghani discussed pending legislation to try civilians in regular courts. He was asked whether the measure was related to the charges against Abdel Jalil.

"We do not comment on cases before the court. But Mr. Abdel Jalil is a civilian and if this bill is passed, his judgment will be transferred to the civilian courts," the minister said.

Abdel Jalil was charged in December with "abuse of power" and undermining national unity. He was allowed to go free on bail and a travel ban was issued until his February 20th military court appearance.

General Younes was the highest-ranking military officer to have joined the rebellion against the Kadhafi regime.

The charge against Abdel Jalil generated considerable controversy. People took to the streets after accusing the court of "bias", particularly after the release on social networks of a video showing Colonel al-Saiti making a victory sign after calling Abdel Jalil for questioning.

Ali al-Tajouri, an employee, said that the main road at Tajoura was closed off in protest. "They have to start with the other terrorist criminals," he noted.

"Abdel Jalil was agreed upon by Libyans, but he is now tried for undermining national unity!," exclaimed Intisar, a young woman. "I think that the trial is not fair!"

"There is a charge against Chancellor Abdel Jalil, but I can't talk about it for the interest of investigation," said the head of Benghazi military prosecutor's office, Saleh al-Beshari.

He noted that the investigation was not yet completed. "They are now collecting and evaluating evidence," al-Beshari said.

When asked to comment on the travel ban, al-Beshari said: "The chancellor is not under house arrest. The decision was taken just to make sure that the course of investigation is not affected."

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