France, Libya, ICC Fight For Custody Of Former Gaddafi Spy Chief Senussi

By : Subscribe to Oliver's | March 19, 2012 8:14 PM IST

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Libya is pressing for the extradition of Muammar Gaddafi's former intelligence chief Abdallah al-Senussi, after he was caught using a fake passport to enter the West African state of Mauritania on Friday.

Senussi, who has been on the run since the dictator's overthrow last year, is likely to become the subject of a three-way tug-of -war between Tripoli, France and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague who also want to put him on trial in Europe.

The 62-year-old was the last significant Gaddafi associate still on the run.

The notorious former intelligence chief is sought by The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity after Libyan security forces repeatedly attacked anti-Gaddafi supporters during the eight-month rebellion.

Interpol has also previously issued a Red Notice to its 190 member countries to arrest Senussi for fraud offenses, including the embezzlement of public funds and the misuse of power for personal benefit, Reuters reported.

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On Saturday, officials in Tripoli  issued a request for Senussi's handover through Interpol, which is expected to compete with a French request for extradition relating to the 1989 bombing of an airliner over Niger in which 54 French nationals died.

"Interpol has committed itself to supporting Libya's efforts to achieve its goal of rebuilding their country and being guided by the rule of law, and clearly their request for an Interpol Red Notice for Senussi is a clear demonstration of their commitment to international police cooperation and justice," Interpol chief Ronald Noble said in a statement.

"Targeting and arresting those involved in embezzling funds and making them accountable for their actions before the courts will help Libya achieve its goal," said Noble.

Doubts have been raised over the ability of Libya's new interim government to properly handle such a high profile case, despite claims by Tripoli that he would get a fair trial.

The ICC previously charged Senussi and Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam for being "indirect co-perpetrators" of the murder and persecution of Libyans during last year's rebellion.

However, Mauritania has not signed the Rome Statute binding it to ICC arrest requests.

Speaking to Reuters, Libyan foreign ministry spokesman Saad Elshlmani said he expected Senussi to end up in Tripoli.

"He's a Libyan ... I think they will give us the priority. He will face justice. It is very important that he is sent to Libya," he said.

"They are not obliged to give him to the ICC because they [Mauritania] are not members, so they will probably agree on our request but we will wait and see."

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