Ex-Gadhafi Spy Chief Extradited to Libya

Wednesday, 05 September 2012 09:41 AM EDT

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania — Mauritanian authorities have handed over Moammar Gadhafi's ex-spy chief to Libya, nearly five months after he was arrested for entering the country illegally, state television reported Wednesday.

"Mauritanian authorities hand over ex-Libyan spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi to Libya," state television said. An official source speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed that Senussi had "effectively left Mauritania".

A delegation from Libya, including the defense minister and army chief of staff, were in Nouakchott on Tuesday for a visit, which several official sources said was in connection with the extradition.

Senussi — a brother-in-law and feared former right-hand man of the slain Libyan dictator — was arrested in Mauritania in March and charged two months later for illegal entry and use of forged documents.

Libya has since pushed hard for the extradition of the man who is also wanted by France and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

The ICC said Wednesday it "has not received any information on the matter" of Senussi's extradition.

Senussi "is wanted by the ICC on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by its pre-trial Chamber for alleged crimes against humanity on June 27," its public affairs unit said in a short email to AFP.

In July, Libya's new authorities dispatched Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib to Nouakchott to press for the handover, but Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said Senussi had to face justice there for illegally entering the country.

"Senussi has problems with Mauritania's judiciary and has to face court for entering Mauritania under a false identity," the president said in August, adding that he had explained this to both the ICC and France.

The ICC says Senussi, the former head of military intelligence in Libya, played a "crucial" role in crushing the popular revolt that eventually ousted the Gadhafi regime late last year.

In the arrest warrant issued last June, the ICC said Senussi was an "indirect perpetrator of crimes against humanity, of murder and persecution based on political grounds" in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

Benghazi was the birthplace of the revolt that started in February 2011 and eventually put an end to more than four decades of Libyan dictatorship. The uprising led to the death of Gadhafi and the arrest of several of his allies.

Senussi was one of the last members of Gadhafi's inner circle to be arrested. Others still at large include Gadhafi's son Saadi, who has taken refuge in Niger.

Senussi is the target of another international arrest warrant after a Paris court sentenced him in absentia to life in prison for involvement in the bombing of a French UTA airliner over Niger in September 1989.

The plane was carrying 170 people from Brazzaville to Paris via N'Djamena.

That attack — along with the bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988 in which 270 people were killed — led to a U.N.-mandated air blockade of Libya in 1992.

Interpol had issued a so-called "red notice" for Senussi on behalf of Libya. The global police body said he was wanted "for fraud offences including embezzling public funds and misuse of power for personal benefit."

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Wednesday, 05 September 2012 09:41 AM
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