International arrest warrant for senior Libyan investment official linked to compensation for IRA Semtex victims

Belgium has issued an international arrest warrant for a senior Libyan official who could play a pivotal role in whether IRA victims receive compensation for Semtex supplied to the IRA by Col Gaddafi.

By Philip Bradfield
Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 6:41 pm

Former Libyan dictator Col Gaddafi supplied the IRA with 120 tonnes of weaponry during the Troubles, including Semtex. As a result, 150 victims of subsequent IRA bombings are seeking £353m damages from oil-rich Libya, in line with that already paid to Libyan terror victims in France Germany and the US.

In 2011 the UN ordered that all Gaddafi linked investments around the world should be frozen. There are some £12bn in the UK which IRA Semtex victims have argued should be used to compensate them, however the UK government has firmly resisted allowing this.

The Libyan Observer newspaper reported this week that The Belgian judiciary has issued an international arrest warrant against the Chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), Ali Mahmoud, on charges of corruption and embezzlement.

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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair meeting Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi at his desert base outside Sirte south of Tripoli in 2007. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Libya government controlled LIA holds ownership of all frozen Gaddafi assets around the globe.

According to the Belgian magazine “De Tijd”, the arrest warrant aims to support a probe into lost interest on the LIA’s billions at the Belgiain Euroclear Bank over several years.

The Belgian government released interest worth 15bn euros, which were later transferred to foreign accounts in London and Bahrain, the magazine said. It reported that the international arrest warrant will be worrying for Mahmoud - as he will be arrested at any time he leaves Libya - and handed over to Belgium.

UUP peer Lord Empey has been campaigning for compensation for victims of IRA Semtex for years.

“I previously raised the issue of Libyan money leaving Belgium in Parliament  and I now intend to pursue this again,” he told the News Letter. “If Libyan assets are being spirited away from a major European country, where are they going and who benefits? This is against the background of victims in the UK being shunned by their own Government. It’s disgusting.’

Asked if he thought that any monies coming from Gaddafi funds in the UK could also be vulnerable to similar allegations as being made by Belgium, he replied: “Anything is possible in this situation, because I just cannot understand the attitude of our government towards the Semtex victims.”

Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman for Innocent Victims United stated: “This is a shocking development. The UK Government has behaved shamefully around these issues and has not advocated on behalf of its own citizens interest, nor has it even adopted the role of an honest broker. This renewed focus on frozen Libyan assets should be seized upon by our own UK Government to belatedly do the right thing”.

In 2019 the News Letter reported that the UK government has probably released some of Gaddafi’s £12bn fortune frozen in the UK to his family and/or aides while refusing to compensate semtex victims.

The report was based on a letter from the Treasury to the NI Affairs Committee which confirmed it had issued 15 licenses for frozen Libyan assets “to make funds or economic resources available to designated persons for specific purposes between April 2-17 and March 2018”. The Treasury refused to give details on who the money was released to, citing confidentiality.

In November German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung said the families of the 11 Israeli athletes who were killed in an attack at the Munich Olympics in 1972 are also demanding that the UN provide them with 110m Euros in compensation, from the frozen funds. The report said that Israel provided the UN with information that connected Gaddafi to the attack.

The Foreign Office and Treasury were both invited to comment.

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