6 Sep 2012

Gaddafi's former spy chief handed back to Libya

2:38 pm on 6 September 2012

One of the most feared advisers of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is in detention in Tripoli, nearly a year after he went on the run.

Former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi was taken into Libyan government custody on Wednesday after being extradited by Mauritania to face charges of crimes against humanity.

Senussi, among the most feared members of Gaddafi's regime before rebels toppled it last year, was captured in the West African state in March.

His extradition came after a high-level Libyan delegation, including the justice minister and army chief of staff, visited Mauritania on Tuesday.

Abdullah al-Senussi was arrested six months ago after arriving with a falsified Malian passport on a flight into the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott from Morocco.

Mauritania's original plan was to put him on trial for illegal entry - a move that threatened to delay efforts to have him face international justice.

A spokesman for the ICC, which has wanted to try the former intelligence chief on charges of crimes against humanity including murder and persecution, said it had received no information about a handover to Libyan authorities in Tripoli.

In its arrest warrant, the Hague-based ICC said he had used his position of command to have attacks carried out against opponents of Gaddafi, who was hunted down and killed by rebels after his ouster in August last year.

France has wanted to try Mr Senussi in connection with a 1989 airliner bombing over Niger in which 54 of its nationals died.

He has also been linked to the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland of an American PanAm jet that killed 270 people. Diplomatic sources have said the United States was keen to question him about that attack.

Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam is to go on trial in Libya this month, a government source said in August, in what would be the most high-profile prosecution of a figure from the late dictator's 42 years in power.