Tripoli, 16 May:
Qaddafi’s prime minister Baghdadi Mahmoudi is under tight guard in Tunis following claims from security forces that they had . . .[restrict]discovered a plot to assassinate him.
Mahmoudi, who is awaiting a decision on his deportation back to Libya, was reportedly moved from prison last week to a private residence where he is being held under house arrest.
A Tunisian security official, speaking anonymously, told a local reporter that the authorities had uncovered a plan by Amazigh from Zwara to kill Mahmoudi when he was in prison. The official said a reward of LD 2 million was offered by Amazigh elders to the assassins.
Mahmoudi was cleared in February of entering Tunisia illegally but has continued to be detained because Libya has requested his return to face prosecution. One of the charges he is likely to face here is that during the war, he advocated the rape of Amazigh women by Qaddafi’s troops.
It is not clear if Mahmoudi was transferred to house arrest from prison as a way of foiling the assassination plot or whether the move was already planned. The Tunisian security source was quoted as saying that the extra precautions to protect the detainee, involved checking the food he would eat.
Before the first round of the France’s presidential election last month, Mahmoudi confirmed a French media report that Qaddafi had funded Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 bid for the Elysée Palace with $66 million.
Investigators here will be anxious to question Mahmoudi about Libya’s missing billions. As a member of Qaddafi’s inner circle he will know many of the old regime’s secrets. Initially deputy prime minister, he took over from his old boss, Shukri Ghanem in 2003. Ghanem’s body was found floating in the Danube in Vienna on 29 April.