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Mauritanian authorities acting with French help on Mar 19 arrested Muammar Qaddafi’s former chief of intelligence, Abdullah Al-Senussi, in Nouakchott airport as he entered the West African country on a false passport. Senussi, who for decades before the late dictator’s fall inspired fear and hatred in ordinary Libyans, is sought by The Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. The whereabouts of Senussi, the last major figure at large from Qaddafi’s regime, had been unclear for months.
But his arrest immediately raised questions as to where he would be tried. The ICC urged Mauritania to send him to The Hague while the French government said it wanted him extradited to France, citing his alleged role in the 1989 bombing of an airliner over Niger in which 54 French nationals died. Libya also said it wanted to extradite Senussi.
The ICC has charged Senussi and Qaddafi’s son Seif Al-Islam as being “indirect co-perpetrators” of murder and persecution. Senussi’s arrest provoked equally fierce emotion on the streets of Tripoli. “Senussi is Qaddafi’s black box, he has a lot of information,” Tripoli resident Mustafa Jhyma said. “He has blood on his hands he should be brought here and tried in Libya.” “This is a big moment for Libyans. I wish that he had been arrested here,” another resident Abdullah Al-Mory said.
Seif Al-Islam was captured disguised as a Bedouin in the Sahara in November is awaiting trial in Libya on rape and murder charges.