Conflict & Justice

Mauritania: France, Libya and the ICC battle for custody following arrest of al-Senussi


Head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi, 62, is pictured in Tripoli on June 22, 2011.



Reuters reports that authorities in Libya said today they would send a delegation to lobby the Mauritanian government for the handover of Abdullah al-Senussi, the former head of intelligence for the regime of deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi who was arrested in the West African country on Friday.

But France and the International Criminal Court are also seeking to take custody of al-Senussi, The Daily Telegraph reported today.

More from GlobalPost: Al-Senussi, Libya's ex-spy chief wanted by ICC, arrested in Mauritania

The three-party battle for custody of al-Senussi did not appear to have a clear winner as yet.

Al-Senussi, 62, is wanted by the ICC as an alleged co-perpetrator of crimes against humanity with Saif a-Islam Gaddafi, who is currently being held by authorities in Tripoli over the apparent objections of ICC prosecutors who say he should be tried at The Hague tribunal for his alleged actions to suppress the eight-month popular uprising that toppled the regime.

Reuters said that unlike the ICC case, the Libyan charges against al-Senussi concerned allegations of embezzlement and abuse of power — and France, claiming it helped secure his arrest, wants to try him for his alleged role in the 1989 bombing of an airliner over Niger in which 54 French people died.

Al-Senussi was arrested Friday as he arrived on a flight from Morocco, according to Reuters, which said he was the last significant Gaddafi-era official to remain on the lam since the collapse of the regime in October.

The Telegraph reported today that Interpol had issued an extradition request and a so-called Red Notice — a circulated statement of intent to arrest that functions as an international arrest warrant when an extradition treaty is in place — for al-Senussi on behalf of Libyan authorities on Friday as he arrived in Mauritania.

According to Reuters, al-Senussi was being held by Mauritanian security services in the capital, Nouakchott and was reported to be in possession of several false passports.

More from GlobalPost: Top India CEO warns of slowdown

Interpol had previously circulated a Red Notice for al-Senussi at the ICC’s request in September but seemed to defend its action in assisting the Libyans in claims that compete directly with both the ICC and France.

“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," the agency's chief Ronald Noble was quoted as saying in a statement carried by Reuters.