Libya demands handover of Gaddafi spy chief Senussi

Many Libyans want to see evidence of Abdullah al-Senussi's capture before they believe it

Libya has formally requested the handover of Col Gaddafi's former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, following his arrest in Mauritania.

A spokesman for the new government in Tripoli "insisted" Brig Gen Senussi be extradited to Libya to face trial.

Interpol says it has issued an international "red notice" arrest warrant at Libya's request.

Senussi is also being sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity.

In addition, France wants to extradite him in connection with a bomb attack on a plane in 1989.

Mauritania has already said it wants to carry out its own investigation before considering any extradition requests.

'Gaddafi's black box'

Gen Senussi was held at the airport in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, after flying in from Morocco using a false passport, officials said.

However, Mauritania has not yet provided any evidence of his arrest.

It is believed he is being held at the offices of the Mauritanian intelligence agency.

Where next for Senussi?

  • Libya: Public will demand justice in Libya and officials say extradition process already under way; but international concern over fairness of trial
  • France: Already sentenced to life in prison in France; President Sarkozy says French authorities involved in arrest; but France may be obliged to hand him to ICC
  • ICC in The Hague: Arrest warrant issued in June 2011; but Mauritania not a signatory to Rome statute, so direct transfer unlikely; Libya likely to strongly resist ICC transfer request

Gen Senussi, 63, fled Libya last year as Col Gaddafi's regime began to crumble.

"We insist that Senussi is extradited to Libya," said Mohammed al-Harizy, spokesman for Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC).

"There are demands from the ICC and France to get Senussi, but the priority is to deliver Senussi to Libya."

Interpol, the international police agency based in the French city of Lyon, said it had issued a "red notice" at Libya's request for Gen Senussi "for fraud offences including embezzling public funds and misuse of power for personal benefit".

The arrest provoked strong feelings on the streets of Tripoli on Saturday.

"Senussi is Gaddafi's black box, he has a lot of information," Tripoli resident Mustafa Jhyma was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"He has blood on his hands, he should be brought here and tried in Libya."

But analysts say Gen Senussi may have incriminating evidence against many NTC members themselves, so they may not be too happy to see him return home.

Libya Mauritania map

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International both said that Mauritania was bound by the UN Security Council to co-operate with the ICC, even though it has not signed up to its statute.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty's deputy director for North Africa, said in a statement that the Libyan justice system remained "weak and unable to conduct effective investigations into alleged crimes".

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also urged all involved to co-operate with the ICC.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Senussi last June, saying he was an "indirect perpetrator of crimes against humanity, of murder and persecution based on political grounds" committed in the eastern city of Benghazi.

He could also be held to account for the massacre of more than 1,000 detainees at a Libyan prison in 1996.

A French court has already convicted the former spy chief in absentia of involvement in a 1989 attack on a French plane that killed 170 people, and sentenced him to life in prison.

Senussi, nicknamed "the butcher", was one of the last significant members of the Gaddafi regime still at large.

More on This Story

Libya after Gaddafi

More Africa stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.