PARIS, France (AFP) – French lawyers for Moamer Kadhafi's last premier called Tuesday for his trial to be postponed after they were unable to secure visas to go and defend him, amid fears of "revenge" justice in Libya.
Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi faces trial on Wednesday, accused of "gratuitously killing people" and of "misappropriating public funds" during the 2011 revolt against Kadhafi that eventually ended his decades of iron-fisted rule.
Mahmudi escaped from Libya in September 2011 after Tripoli fell to the rebels fighting Kadhafi's rule and was later arrested in Tunisia, which extradited him back to his home country in June last year.
One of the lawyers Pierre-Olivier Sur said he not been given access to the case and that he and his colleague had not been granted a visa, "despite every possible attempts to do so with Libyan authorities".
"Having even been the victim of attempted racketeering, I have asked for the trial to be postponed to a later date in a letter to the court," he said in a statement.
Mahmudi's trial comes just days after Amnesty International published a report warning that hundreds of former soldiers and supporters of Kadhafi were at increased risk of the death penalty.
This follows the sentencing to death of Ahmad Ibrahim, a former Kadhafi minister, at the end of July for his role in the deadly repression of the rebellion.
"While the victims of war crimes and human rights violations have the right to see justice being done, justice must not turn into revenge," said Philip Luther, director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty.
Sur denounced the trial of Mahmudi -- who is also being defended by Libyan lawyers -- as "expeditious" and likened it to Ibrahim's court hearing.
Mahmudi allegedly spent billions of dollars trying to buy support during the 2011 uprising in Libya.