Prime Minister Ali Zeidan today named two members of Congress he said were behind his abduction, as well as identifying three individuals who had interrogated him after his kidnap and insisted he resign.
In a statement read out at a press conference this afternoon, before a calm and apparently confident Zeidan sat down to take questions, he accused Congressmen Mustafa Treiki and Mohamed Al-Kilani of being responsible for his 10 October seizure from the Corinthia hotel. Both are independents for Zawia. Kilani is regarded as a radical Islamist.
Also involved, claimed Zeidan, were Abdul Hakkim Belazi, the official spokesman for the Counter Crime Agency (CCA) which was involved in the abduction, and a man he named as Ramadan Zaamit. He added that he did not expect that either Treiki and Kilani would deny their involvement. In fact, they later did.
Zeidan said that in the basement of the Counter Crime Agency in Fornaj to which he was eventually taken, he was questioned by the local head of the CCA, Abdelmonem Al-Said, as well as by Adel Al-Said and Abdulraouf Al-Minae.
Zeidan indicated that the kidnappers did not appear to have a proper plan. They had first intended to take him to Zawia through streets which, he noted, were devoid of any security patrols. Then they changed their minds and decided to go to the Sha’ab sea front area of Tripoli before finally electing to head to the Fornaj CCA building.
He said that GNC president Nurri Abu Sahmain had visited him and the kidnappers for 20 minutes, trying to persuade them to let him go. Deputy Defence Minister Khaled Al-Sharrif, who had arrived with Sahmain, stayed on for several hours still arguing for Zeidan’s release, before giving up and leaving to go and report to Congress.
Zeidan produced an intriguing detail. His mobile phone had been taken from him when he arrived in Fornaj. It was later located, thanks to help from his service supplier, somewhere on the GNC premises. He did not say precisely where. Zeidan said it seemed that the phone had been taken there by one of his abductors. He said he had a filed a formal complaint about the theft with the Tripoli Old City police station, in whose area the Corinthia hotel lies. The complaint was being forward to the Attorney General, who would be following up the issue with the public prosecutor.
Contrary to his expectations, Zeidan’s accusations were denied this evening at a press conference called by Treiki and Kilani. They said that the Prime Minister was only accusing them to cover up his own failures in running the country. They called Zeidan “a liar” who was trying to emerge from his brief abduction as some sort of hero. They admitted however that they had tried and failed to organise a vote of confidence in the GNC to bring down his government.
Also on the platform with the two congressman was Abdelmonem Al-Said. The Fornaj CCA commander said that he was proud of having arrested the Prime Minister, whom he accused of being involved in drugs and corruption. He astounded his audience with claims that drugs had been found in Zeidan’s car last June and that there was no evidence that he enjoyed any political immunity from arrest and prosecution.
The question of immunity is likely now to weigh upon the GNC, if there are any moves to take legal action against Treiki and Kilani. Under the law as it apparently stands, no investigation, let alone prosecution of a Congress member, can begin until his or her political immunity has been lifted. While the lawmakers were quick to take away protection three weeks ago from three of their colleagues accused of defaming members of the Justice and Construction Party, it may be a different matter with Treiki and Kilani.
One senior congressman told the Libya Herald this evening that he doubted very much that his colleagues would permit an investigation. He described Treiki and Kilani as “political hooligans” who did not understand due process or the rule of law.
He added: “I think it is going to be business as usual. Both sides [the government and the GNC] will continue to carry on as if nothing has happened and they will continue to play games.”
The Congressman said that because he had not delivered, the GNC was not happy with Zeidan. “However, I think it extremely doubtful that there will be a successful vote of no-confidence in him. They don’t trust each other as to his replacement”.