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Qaddafi’s Last Premier in Court Over Alleged State Crimes

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s last prime minister, Baghdadi Mahmudi, appeared briefly in court to stand trial for embezzlement and other alleged crimes linked to the ousted government.

Mahmudi, the highest ranking former official to stand trial so far, was charged with embezzlement in the opening session, his attorney, Ali Koubar, said by telephone. He also stands accused of “prejudicial acts against the security of the state,” Taha Baara, a spokesman for the prosecutor-general, said in a statement late yesterday.

The charge of harming state security includes allegations such as ordering mass rape in the city of Zuwara. The court, which was set up to try members of the former government, adjourned the hearing until Dec. 10 to give Mahmudi’s lawyers time to prepare his defense.

The trial in Tripoli, which was aired on Libyan state television, began two days before a new Cabinet is scheduled to be sworn in. The government is the first to be approved by the democratically elected parliament. An earlier list submitted by Prime Minister Ali Zaidan’s predecessor was rejected by lawmakers, who subsequently withdrew confidence from the then-premier.

Mahmudi is also accused of ordering the transfer of dead bodies to buildings hit by Western airstrikes to give the appearance that the attacks resulted in civilian casualties, Baara said.

Libya repeatedly sought Mahmudi’s extradition from Tunisia, where he fled in September 2011. He was returned to Libya in June, and his lawyers say he was beaten by Libyan security officers. Libyan officials deny he was abused while in custody.

To contact the reporters on this story: Brigitte Scheffer in Tripoli via Cairo at bscheffer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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