By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 22 November 2017:
Presidency Council boycotter Ali Gatrani has lashed out at a Maltese newspaper for suggesting that he provided accused fuel smuggler Fahmi Slim Ben Khalifa’s firm Tiuboda Oil and Gas Services with a letter of authorisation that enabled it to operate.
Malta Today has published the letter dated 15 November 2015, signed by Gatrani in his then capacity as head of the House of Representatives’ economy, trade and investment committee, in which he says the company was a legitimate one.
The Maltese newspaper further claims that when he signed the letter, Gatrani “was at the time aware of Ben Khalifa’s smuggling operations from the port of Zwara (sic)”. It also states that by signing it, Gatrani effectively enabled Ben Khalifa’s company and his Maltese associates to convince the authorities in Malta that the fuel they were trading was bought legally. It notes that the letter came a month after an article in the Asia Times by Ann Marlowe alleging that Ben Khalifa was a major human and fuel trafficker, and that he was collaborating with Maltese businessmen.
It further claims that “although knowing that Fahmi Slim was a smuggling kingpin, Gatrani would later complain that the Maltese government was ignoring complaints on fuel smuggling”.
Gatrani has expressed astonishment at being drawn into the affair. He points out that providing a letter for Ben Khalifa to state that his company was legally set up in no way endorses any illegal activities that it may have become embroiled in.
He added that he did not want to say more while the case against Ben Khalifa was ongoing.
Accused of being the “king” of human trafficking and fuel smuggling in Libya, Ben Khalifa was arrested in Zuwara last August and handed over to the Rada Deterrence force in Tripoli last August. He is still being held.
It is alleged that he smuggled some €30 million of oil from Libya in Maltese vessels