Libya abolishes state security courts
TRIPOLI, Libya -- Libya's transitional justice minister said Monday that he has approved a measure to abolish the country's state security prosecution and courts, which sentenced opponents of the old regime to prison.
At a news conference in Tripoli, Mohammed al-Alagi, part of Libya's new leadership after the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi, said he has signed a document to disband the bodies. The step still needs approval by the National Transitional Council that now runs the country.
"I am personally very happy to sign an approval to end the state security prosecution and court, and the state security appeals court," al-Alagi said.
He said the document includes a request to abolish a third court for special cases where many opposition members were sentenced to life terms in prisons like Abu Salim in Tripoli, where inmates were massacred by Gadhafi's regime.
Libyans are pressing forward with efforts to do away with some of the most hated remnants of the former regime even though fighting continues and the ousted leader's whereabouts remains unknown.
Hundreds of civilians fled Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte Monday to escape growing shortages of food and medicine and escalating fears that their homes will be struck during fighting between revolutionary forces and regime loyalists.
Anti-Gadhafi fighters launched their offensive against Sirte nearly two weeks ago, but have faced fierce resistance from loyalists holed up inside the city. After a bloody push into Sirte again over the weekend, revolutionary fighters say they have pulled back to plan their assault and allow civilians more time to flee.
NATO, which has played a key role in decimating Gadhafi's military during the Libyan civil war, has kept up its air campaign since the fall of Tripoli last month. The alliance said Monday its warplanes struck eight military targets near Sirte a day earlier, including an ammunition and vehicle storage facility and rocket launcher.
Sirte, 250 miles southeast of Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast, is one of the last remaining bastions of Gadhafi loyalists since revolutionary fighters stormed into the capital last month.
The fugitive leader's supporters also remain in control of the town of Bani Walid, southeast of Tripoli, and pockets of territory in the country's south.
Civilians fleeing Sirte Monday described grave shortages of food, fuel, drinking water and medicine.