Tripoli government in bid to seize Libyan jets in Malta

Tobruk representatives fight off temporary injunction issued by court on two Bombardier executive private jets worth some €70 million

The Tripoli based UAC is claiming ownership of the jets in question – two Bombardier Global 5000 executive private jets, callsigns 5A-UAB  and 5A-UAC. The court application states the value of the jets to be €35 million each.
The Tripoli based UAC is claiming ownership of the jets in question – two Bombardier Global 5000 executive private jets, callsigns 5A-UAB and 5A-UAC. The court application states the value of the jets to be €35 million each.

A court has temporarily upheld an application by a Tripoli-based company to seize two private jets currently parked at Malta International Airport, from the representatives of the internationally recognised Tobruk government, until a dispute over ownership of the aircraft is decided by the courts.

As the struggle for the control of Libya's assets abroad continues, Ali Hassan El Shanti –the legal representative of the Libyan company United Aviation Company SPA (UAC) based in Tripoli - filed two warrants against the Tobruk-based Executive Authority for Air Cargo and Special Flights (EACS) in June.

Libya is still struggling with two competing governments vying for control after Libya Dawn, an umbrella of Islamist militias and armed groups from the western city of Misrata, seized Tripoli in 2014, forcing the elected government to withdraw to the eastern cities of Tobruk and Al Bayda.

The conflict has not been restricted to the control of territory and the country’s rich oil resources but it has also paralysed the country’s economy and the self-declared Tripoli government has initiated a number of court cases in Malta and the UK to seize control of Libya’s foreign assets.

The Tripoli based UAC is claiming ownership of the jets in question – two Bombardier Global 5000 executive private jets, callsigns 5A-UAB  and 5A-UAC. The court application states the value of the jets to be €35 million each.

The warrants, which had been granted by Judge Joseph R. Micallef in June, are being contested by the Director General of the Tobruk-based Executive Authority for Air Cargo and Special Flights, Shaker Own, who is alleging that the request for the seizure of the aircraft had been made with vexatious and malicious intent and was hindering the operation of the Libyan government.

In support of the EACS’ claim, Own exhibited a memo addressed to representatives of the jets’ manufacturers and maintenance contractors , signed by Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, instructing them to “kindly ignore any entity or individual seeking information or pretending to forward any services unless endorsed and confirmed by the general manager of the EACS.”

The signature of al-Thinni proves that the jets are EACS’s legitimate property, he claimed, pointing out elsewhere that Elshanti had not supplied any proof of his legal representation of UAC.

Own also exhibited a list of aircraft which are owned by the EACS, confirmed by a letter from the Director General of the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority, Abdelhamed Imhemed Gedalla, to the International Civil Aviation Organization, the head of Flight Saftey at Libyan Civil Aviation and the directors of Air France, MCM in both Munich and Malta, Jetaviation in Basel and LBAS in Berlin, exhorting them to disregard any statement about the aircraft issued by the Civil Aviation Office in Tripoli.

Additionally, EACS is claiming that UAC does not even exist as a legal entity anymore, exhibiting a decree from the Office of the Libyan Prime Minister delivered on 20 January 2014, ordering the liquidation of UAC.

Newly-appointed judge Miriam Hayman will begin to hear the parties’ verbal submissions in the case next week.

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