Tunisia has extradited Moamer Kadhafi's former premier to Libya, igniting a fierce row between Tunis' president and prime minister, who disagreed over the move.
Baghdadi al-Mahmudi, who fled Libya to neighbouring Tunisia last September shortly after rebel fighters took the capital Tripoli, was extradited Sunday, a spokesman for Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali told AFP.
But the move sparked an angry reaction from the office of President Moncef Marzouki, who was in southern Tunisia Sunday for commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the national army.
"The presidency of the Republic expresses its rejection of the decision of the head of government to extradite M. Mahmudi and considers this decision is illegal, all the more so because it has been done unilaterally and without consulting the president of the republic," a statement said.
"The extradition decision, signed by the head of the Tunisian government, constitutes a clear violation of our country's international commitments and those towards the UN," the statement added.
"The president's office holds the head of government responsible for anything that happens after the extradition," and for anything that subsequently befalls Mahmudi.
Marzouki had opposed sending back Mahmudi, 67, because he wanted guarantees he would receive a fair trial.
Lawyers and rights groups have long argued Mahmudi would be executed if returned to Libya, where a February 2011 uprising ended more than four decades of Kadhafi's iron-fisted rule.
He served as Kadhafi's premier from 2006 until the final days of his regime, and was arrested on September 21 in Tunisia as he tried to flee to Algeria.
Mahmudi's lawyer Mabrouk Kourchid said his client was flown to Libya on a private plane, and condemned the extradition as a "state crime".
He accused Tunisia of respecting "neither the law, nor humanitarian values, nor human rights" in the process.
His client had applied to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for political refugee status, but had not yet received an answer, he added.
"The High Commission had not yet given its response, and he should not therefore have been extradited," Kourchid said.
Interum Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib insisted Sunday the rights of the extradited minister would be protected.
"The Libyan government reiterates that the accused will receive good treatment in accordance with the teachings of our righteous religion and according to international standards of human rights," he said.
He also expressed Libya's "profound thanks and appreciation to the brotherly nation of Tunisia" for the extradition.
Kib said Mahmudi was being held in a prison under the supervision of the ministry of justice and the judiciary police.
The Tunisian government defended its decision, saying in a statement that a panel of experts sent by Tunis to Tripoli found all conditions were in place for a fair trial.
The case has further soured relations between Tunisia's president and his prime minister, in an already tense government alliance.
The Tunisian prime minister's party Ennahda won the country's first free polls in October -- but not by a big enough margin to govern on its own.
President Marzouki is a member of the Congress for the Republic (CPR), a nationalist party allied with Ennahda.© ANP/AFP