The Prosecutor General of Libya has ordered the detention of Amel Jerary, the country’s ambassador to Brussels, on allegations of corruption. This decision comes shortly after the internationally recognized government in Tripoli dismissed her from her position. The Office of Prosecutor Al-Seddik al-Sour stated that Jerary was questioned regarding “administrative and financial abuses” that were allegedly used to “obtain illicit material advantages by illegally seizing public funds and causing harm to public interest.” Taking into consideration the relevance of the evidence against Jerary, Al-Sour has charged her and ordered her provisional detention, as mentioned in a statement issued by the office. However, the statement did not disclose her current location.
The UN-recognized government in western Libya had previously announced Jerary’s dismissal without providing an explanation. The nation, rich in oil, has been continuously embroiled in a crisis since the 2011 uprising that led to the downfall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi. Corruption remains prevalent throughout state institutions. Libya is currently divided between two rival administrations, one in Tripoli and the other in the eastern part of the country, supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
The recent corruption scandal arose following the circulation of an audio recording allegedly attributed to Jerary on social media. The recording features a woman, believed to be Jerary, speaking to her secretary about the need for a “false invoice” worth over 200,000 euros ($209,000) for cancer treatment of a fictitious Libyan patient. The secretary confirmed the authenticity of the recording to Libyan media. The woman in the recording states that the invoice must be sent to the Libyan health ministry to obtain its approval and access the funds.
Covering medical expenses for Libyans abroad is a standard procedure in Libyan international representations. However, irregularities are frequently denounced by officials. According to Belgian daily Le Soir, Jerary is also suspected of making “suspicious” transfers of Libyan public funds amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars to a company owned by her son.
Reports from Belgian media suggest that the ambassador has returned to Libya, but there has been no immediate confirmation of this.