x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Libyan deputy PM in Mauritania to seek Senoussi handover

Mustafa Abu Shagour, arrives in Mauritania to press for the handover of Muammar Qaddafi's feared intelligence chief Abdallah Al Senoussi.

NOUAKCHOTT // The Libyan deputy prime minister, Mustafa Abu Shagour, arrived in Mauritania yesterday to press for the handover of Muammar Qaddafi's feared intelligence chief Abdallah Al Senoussi, officials said.

Mr Al Senoussi, 62, the last major Qaddafi associate on the run since the dictator's overthrow and death in a popular revolt last year, was arrested in Mauritania after his arrival late on Friday on a flight from Morocco. France and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague also seek custody of him.

Mauritania has made no official statement on Mr Al Senoussi, accused of playing a central role in repression and torture under Qaddafi, apart from a brief report by its official state news agency. A security source said it had yet to take a decision on his fate.

Mr Al Senussi was being held at the headquarters of Mauritania's security service in Nouakchott, sources there said. Diplomatic sources said he was carrying several false passports when detained.

The Libyan foreign ministry spokesman, Saad Elshlmani, said it was not clear how long Mr Shagour and his delegation would stay in Mauritania.

Asked by reporters at the airport why Libya wanted Mr Al Senoussi extradited, Mr Shagour said: "Because he has committed crimes there." He declined to comment further.

The ICC has indicted Mr Al Senoussi for crimes against humanity, but Libya also wants him to face local justice.

France, 54 of whose nationals were killed in the bombing of a UTA airliner over Niger in 1989, is also seeking Mr Al Senoussi, who was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for his alleged role in the attack.