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Egypt arrests Qaddaf Al-Dam, Al-Kilani and Ali Marya

2013-03-20 –

By Ashraf Abdul-Wahab and Michel Cousins.

Egypt has arrested Qaddafi’s cousin and leading aide, Ahmed Qaddaf Al-Dam, as well as at least two other Qaddafi regime figures wanted by Libya. Reports were circulating in Tripoli for much of the late morning, Tuesday, but were confirmed this evening by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

Speaking at a press conference this evening he said that former director of Libyan Radio and member of Qaddafi’s inner circle Ali al-Kilani as well as former Libyan ambassador Ali Marya had also been arrested.

Egyptian officials reported that Qaddaf Al-Dam was arrested this morning following a pre-dawn siege at his home in the fashionable Cairo district of Zamalek, not far from the Libyan embassy. He is said to have surrendered after a short gunfight in which three policemen were reportedly wounded.

According to the Egyptian news agency, he will be held for 30 days during which time Libya can file extradition charges. Officials said Qaddaf al-Dam may face further prosecution by Egyptian authorities for resisting arrest.

In addition to Qaddaf Al-Dam and Ali Marya, they said that another Qaddafi figure, Mohamed Ibrahim Ali, had also been detained. There may, however, have been some confusion over the name, and they may have been referring to Kilani.

Qaddaf Al-Dam had good connections in Egypt; he was coordinator of the Egyptian-Libyan relations under Qaddafi and this appears to have protected him until now.

Exactly a year ago, following a visit to Cairo by Libyan Attorney General Abdulaziz Al-Hasadi to demand that it hand over number of former Qaddafi officials, including Ahmed Qaddaf-Adam, Egypt said it was considering doing so.

Although the Egyptians have long known where he lived, nothing then happened until earlier this year. At the beginning of February, Egypt placed a travel ban on six Qaddafi regime figures in the country, preventing them from leaving. Qaddaf Al-Dam was said to be one of them, as was Mohamed Ibrahim Ali.

In June last year, it was reported that Al–Kilani had been expelled from Morocco and gone with his family to live in Alexandria.

He and Marya were reported to have been arrested elsewhere in Cairo, without resistance.

This evening Zeidan said he was in contact with the Egyptian government to work on the extradition of the men who, he said, would be well treated and receive a a fair trial. Thanking Al-Hasadi who resigned over the weekend as Attorney General, Zeidan said that he expected Qaddaf Al-Dam to fight the extradition moves.

Ali Zeidan was in Cairo a week and a half ago when he demanded the Egyptian government hand over the Libyan fugitives. It has been reported in the Egyptian press that, in return, Libya would invest in Egypt and ease restrictions on visas for Egyptians wanting to work here.

Zeidan appears to have been kept fully informed of the latest developments in advance. On Monday evening, a special envoy from Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil arrived in Tripoli to brief the prime minister on what was happening.

Tens of pro-Gadhafi Libyans living in Cairo converged on the scene to denounce the arrest, chanting, “God, Moammar, Libya!”

Fares Gadhafi, an Egyptian who said he is a descendant of Gadhafi’s tribe, described Qaddaf al-Dam as a national hero and claimed he participated in Egypt’s 1973 war against Israel. Qaddaf al-Dam is a cousin of the late dictator.

“Now they’re handing him over to the dogs,” he shouted.

In Tripoli, members of the interim Libyan parliament applauded when the news of the arrest was read aloud.

Egyptian authorities issued a warrant for Qaddaf al-Dam’s arrest after Interpol issued a “red notice” to extradite him to Libya to face corruption charges.

The Egyptian prosecution ordered Qaddaf al-Dam detained for 30 days to allow charges against him to be filed by Libya, the Egyptian state news agency reported.

Officials said Qaddaf al-Dam may face further prosecution by Egyptian authorities for resisting arrest.

Also arrested Tuesday were former Libyan ambassador Ali Mahmoud Maria and former government official Mohamed Ali Ibrahim. Egyptian police detained them on Tuesday in other neighborhoods of Cairo. They surrendered without resistance.

Last year Libya’s prosecutor general requested that Egypt hand over 40 Libyans affiliated with Gadhafi’s regime. They are suspected of committing offenses during the eight-month civil war.

In addition to Qaddaf al-Dam, the list includes former Foreign Minister Ali Al-Treki and military intelligence chief Bouzeid Al-Jabou.

Egypt’s official state news agency said a Libyan judge has been posted at the embassy in Cairo for almost a year to coordinate with Egypt’s Justice Ministry.

During the siege before dawn Tuesday, Qaddaf al-Dam said in a telephone call to a privately-owned Egyptian satellite TV channel, Dream, that he was invited to Cairo by the military council that took power after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

“We came here with an invitation from the Foreign Ministry and the military council … We are not terrorists to be ambushed like this,” he said. “We will defend our house until the end.”

Mubarak, who like Gadhafi was ousted in a 2011 Arab Spring uprising, had close ties to the Libyan dictator. Human rights groups said Cairo allowed Libyan intelligence to kidnap members of the anti-Gadhafi opposition, notably dissident Mansour Kikhia, who disappeared in 1993. His remains were found in a house in Tripoli in September.

Even after Mubarak’s overthrow, Cairo appeared reluctant to hand over wanted Gadhafi officials, possibly because they had ties with Egypt’s intelligence and security agencies or investments in the country.

The move against Qaddaf al-Dam came shortly after Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zidan met with Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo. According to Egyptian media reports, Zidan demanded that Egypt hand over wanted men in return for greater Libyan investment in Egypt and easing the entry of Egyptian workers to Libya.

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