Last updated: 16 December, 2011

Libyan leader demands release of Kadhafi billions

Libya’s interim leadership Friday demanded the release of up to $160 billion (122 billion euros) of assets frozen in sanctions against former dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

“All the Libyan people want from the international community is to try to speed the process of unfreezing our assets so we can pay wages and go back to normal,” National Transitional Council chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil said.

“As all are aware… the money of Moamer Kadhafi, between 140-160 billion dollars, is frozen under international decisions,” he told a European Union rights and development conference in Warsaw.

“If we get this money back we can help Libyans recover,” Abdel Jalil said, adding that so far individual countries had released just a fraction of the frozen cash.

“There is also a financial crisis in the world and it might be beneficial for them to keep this money for a while,” Abdel Jalil said. “If a country has four billion US dollars, they just unfreeze maybe 100 million.”

He said the money is needed for reconstruction and to help the families of up to 25,000 rebel fighters killed during the uprising against Kadhafi’s regime.

“The number of martyrs is 24,000 to 25,000 and among them are 5,000-6000 married people who left behind widows and children — there are also some 35,000 wounded and injured persons,” Abdel Jalil said.

Responding to comments by International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo that Kadhafi’s killing could amount to a war crime, Jalil said Libyan authorities were “very ready to share all the findings” of an ongoing investigation.

He did not specify when the probe may be completed.

Speaking of Syria, where the United Nations claims over 5,000 people have perished in a government crackdown on nine months of anti-regime protests, Abdel Jalil called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down immediately.

“The Syrian solution should be a completely peaceful one through President Assad stepping down and leaving the Syrian people to choose their destiny,” Abdel Jalil said.