By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 31 March 2013:
Regarding the attack on the Ministry of Justice by militias this morning, both the Minister of . . .[restrict]Justice and Prime Minister condemned it at today’s press conference.
They both refused to give in to pressure to allow militias to control prisons or hold prisoners. Only the Ministry of Justice together with the Public Prosecutor’s Office could be allowed to hold prisoners – they both stressed.
The attack on the Ministry of Justice came after Minister Maraghni announced that any militia holding any prisoners is regarded as an illegal militia. The militias were unhappy with this decision and were concerned that the government, following a strict legal route, might be forced to release some of the more notorious members of the former regime under their custody.
The Minister of Justice and his Prime Minister were adamant at the press conference. Maraghni pointed out that while buildings could be attacked and occupied and Ministers possibly killed, justice could not. He reminded that the 17th February revolution was for justice and the rule of law.
On the same topic, Zeidan assured that prisoners handed over by foreign states are held in official prisons with their full human rights guaranteed. He thanked Egypt and Morocco for their recent cooperation in handing over prisoners, but added they were handed over through a legal process (meaning that no deals were struck in exchange).
Combing of state assets and illegal militias
Interior Minister Shuwail for his part confirmed that the combing of areas of Tripoli continues using the Special Forces made up of police and army in a systemic manner which will be replicated in Benghazi soon. Around 36 state-owned sites, including properties belonging to members of the former regime assigned to the state by the law, have been vacated, he reported.
Regarding the re-building of the police force, it will take time he explained. It is a complex and complicated issue with over 120,000 personnel involved with 79,000 not turning up for work.
Prime Minister Zeidan added that these are still Libyan citizens that the state was obliged to look after be providing a salary to at least in the short term.
Asked how come the state is passing laws such as the demonstration law, but unwilling to enforce them, Zeidan replied that the imposition of laws will take time.
Regarding the recent call by the Doctors’ Union for the state to provide better protection against armed attacks on them by militias and civilians, Shuwail said that he conducted a spot check yesterday and found adequate numbers of security personnel at major hospitals. He added that while he totally sympathized with them, it was impossible to assign a guard to each doctor. He called for understanding of the situation.
New modern army
Chief of Staff Yousef Mangoush condemned the deadly attack yesterday on the Tamarhind military airbase in the south near Sebha. He blamed the attack on cross-border smugglers. Besides the deaths there was no collateral damage caused he reported.
Mangoush stressed that Libya needed to rebuild a new smaller modern army based on scientific basis. At the same time as re-building, the army needs to deal with the various security issues all over the country – which affects the rate of the re-building progress.
Asked why he had visited the UK recently, he replied that it was a routine visit. Zeidan added that the UK was a friendly nation and that it had historically helped Libya in the past, including in building its army and that it was also helping now.
The Prime Minister added to Mangoush’s comments that both Qatar and the UAE had offered their help in the training of the Libyan police and army. He also added that during his Doha conference meetings he talked to the prime ministers of Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco and discussed cooperation – including on the issues of security.
Smugglers and destroyed holy Tombs
Asked why the state was not shooting at smugglers that were thought to be regular and in large convoys, the Prime Minister assured that if they are seen, they will be shot at.
He refuted that they were many and that they were in big convoys, but admitted that due to the size of Libya, it was impossible to stop all of them.
With regards to why the state was still unable to protect the holy tomb in Tajura despite the numbers of security personnel they claim to now have, Zeidan said that it had been shot at probably with an RPG from a distance and that it was impossible to protect every site. He also added that they have other sites to protect and cannot be expected to assign troops to all holy sites. [/restrict]