Libyan wartime leader Jalil faces questioning over killing

Wed Nov 7, 2012 8:52am EST
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By Ghaith Shennib

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - A Libyan court on Wednesday ordered Mustafa Abdel Jalil, former political leader of rebels who toppled Muammar Gaddafi last year, to be questioned by military prosecutors over the killing of the insurgents' top field commander.

Abdel Fattah Younes, Gaddafi's interior minister before he switched to the rebel cause soon after the start of the revolt, was killed by gunmen on his own side in July 2011. His death betrayed ideological splits in the rebel movement and was seen as the work of a faction that mistrusted any ex-Gaddafi loyalist holding a commanding position in the insurgency.

Eleven men, including a former deputy premier in the National Transition Council, the political wing of the rebellion, have been charged in connection with Younes's murder but only one has been arrested.

"The court demands the referral of Mustafa Abdel Jalil, former head of the NTC, to military prosecution for investigation in the case of Abdel Fattah Younes," Judge Abdullah al-Saidi said at a hearing for the accused.

Jubilation broke out in the courtroom and about 100 people celebrated outside, chanting: "Your blood will not go in vain, oh colonel," referring to Younes.

There was no immediate comment from Jalil. He said in August that the NTC knew who killed Younes but did not elaborate. He retired from politics that month and returned to his native town in eastern Libya.

Younes was slain in mysterious fashion after NTC leaders summoned him back to Benghazi, their political headquarters in eastern Libya, to discuss "mistakes at the front line".

His death caused deep rifts within the rebellion, exposing tensions between Islamists - whom Gaddafi fiercely suppressed during his 42-year dictatorship - and secularists, with various factions accusing each other of responsibility.   Continued...

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) speaks during the handover ceremony of power to the national congress in Tripoli, August 8, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori