By Emmanuel Nduka
Libya’s prosecutor general on Tuesday ordered the detention of its ambassador to Brussels over alleged corruption.
The order to detain Amel Jerary came shortly after the internationally recognised government in Tripoli dismissed her.
The envoy was questioned about “administrative and financial abuses” allegedly used to “obtain illicit material advantages by illegally seizing public funds and causing harm to public interest”, the office of prosecutor Al-Seddik al-Sour said.
Noting “the relevance of the evidence” against the ambassador, Al-Sour charged her and ordered her provisional detention, the office said in a statement, without mentioning her whereabouts.
The UN-recognised government in western Libya had earlier announced Jerary’s dismissal without giving an explanation.
The oil-rich North African country has been mired in perpetual crisis since the 2011 revolt that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi, and corruption is rife throughout state institutions.
Libya remains divided between two rival administrations, one in Tripoli and the other in Libya’s east backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
The latest corruption scandal erupted after an audio recording attributed to Jerary was posted on social media, in which a woman can be heard addressing what was said to be her secretary, claiming to need a “false invoice” of more than 200,000 euros ($209,000) for cancer treatment for a “fictitious” Libyan patient.
Her secretary confirmed the authenticity of the recording to Libyan media.
In the recording, the woman says the invoice must be sent to the Libyan health ministry to get its approval to release the funds.
The payment of medical expenses for Libyans abroad is standard practice in Libyan international representations, but officials regularly denounce irregularities.
Belgian daily Le Soir reported that Jerary was also suspected of having made “suspicious” transfers of Libyan public money amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, to a company owned by her son.