- A prominent Libyan political prisoner, Fathi al-Jahmi, is seriously battling with poor health and in urgent need of independent medical care, the New York-based Human Rights Watch disclosed.
The right body asked Libyan authorities to immediately release al-Jahmi without condition and allow him access to an independent physician.
Al-Jahmi, 66, has been detained for four years without trial. He is reported to be battling with swollen legs, lost of weight and discoloured skin. al-Jahmi is also too weak to speak.
He was diagnosed against diabetes, hypertension and heart disease by independent doctors in 2005.
The Libyan government has turned a deaf ear on several requests by human rights organisations.
“Libya wants the world to think it has changed, but Fathi al-Jahmi’s unlawful detention and systematic mistreatment are a disgrace for a country that wants acceptance by the world community,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East Director of Human Rights Watch.
The former provincial Governor was first arrested by internal security forces on 19 October after he had criticised the government and Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. He press for the abolition of al-Qadhafi's Green Book, free elections, free press, and release of political prisoners. Mr al-Jahmi was later sentenced to five years in prison.
He was released after a meeting ensued between the Libyan leader and the US Senator Joseph Biden in March 2004.
But his interviews with the media, questioning Libya's democratic credentials as well as describing al-Qadhafi a "dictator" who "hands us a prayer carpet, asking us to bow before his picture and worship him" led to his re-arrest along with his wife and son on 26 March.
Detained in an undisclosed location for six months, al-Jahmi and family were denied access by their relatives and lawyers.
His son and wife were respectively released on September and November 2004, but al-Jahmi has since been detained.
Ironically, Libyan security told Human Rights Watch in 2005 that he was "mentally disturbed," which was why he was detained in a special facility for his own protection.
“I am responsible for his health care, his detention, and I want to say this: if this man was not detained, because he provoked people, they could have attacked him in his home,” Col. Tohamy Khaled said. “Therefore, he is facing trial. … He’s in special detention because he’s mentally disturbed and we’re worried he will cause a problem for us.”
In May 2005, Human Rights Watch visited al-Jahmi in an Internal Security Agency's special detention facility in Tripoli. He was then facing counts of trying to overthrow the government, insulting al-Qadhafi and contacting foreign authorities. The latter breaches Article 166 of the penal code which imposes death penalty on anyone guilty of the crime
Charges were dropped against him without any government explanation. His lawyer feared that he might face the death penalty for supporting or calling the establishment of "any grouping, organisation or association proscribed by law."
Human rights activists said al-Jahmi’s continuous detention and mistreatment violate both Libyan and international law.
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