Tunis — Abdullah Senussi, intelligence chief of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was apprehended in Nouakchott Airport in Mauritania on Saturday March 16.
Senussi was caught traveling from Casablanca, Morocco while using a false Malian passport.
Senussi was a central figure in the former Libyan regime, and was notorious for his role as Gaddafi's right hand. Since his capture, the Libyan and French governments, in addition to the International Criminal Court, have begun the process of appealing for Senussi's extradition. He has been implicated in committing acts of terrorism and crimes against humanity.
According to a press release issued by France's office of the presidency, Senussi's arrest was the byproduct of efforts coordinated by Mauritanian and French authorities. In 1999, France issued a warrant for the arrest of Senussi, after his indictment by the French judiciary. Senussi was sentenced in absentia for his role in an attack on a French flight in 1989, in which 170 passengers - 54 of whom were French nationals - were killed.
"Justice must be done for the victims of the terrorist attack on the French aircraft," stated Jacques Denoray, assistant to the spokesperson of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of the Middle East North African region. French authorities have requested that the Mauritanian government extradite Senussi to France for trial.
"The legal proceedings for his arrest will be dealt with by the French Ministry of Justice," Denoray added.
Libyan authorities have engaged in similar efforts to have Senussi extradited as soon as possible. In 1996 Senussi is believed to have orchestrated Bou Slim Prison massacre, in which 1,200 Libyan prisoners were executed for protesting against the harsh conditions of their incarceration.
Faouzi Abdel Aal, Minister of Interior for Libya's National Transitional Council, expressed his relief concerning Senussi's detainment. He stated that Mauritanian authorities acted appropriately in arresting an enduring symbol of the Gaddafi regime. "It was an honorable decision," he stressed.
According to Abdel Aal, a Libyan delegation was sent today to negotiate Senussi's extradition with the Mauritanian authorities."We want to try him in Libya. We will provide the ideal conditions for a fair trial of Senussi," he assured.
His position was echoed by Khaled Suliman, officer of the Department of Wounded and Sick Libyans in Tunisia's Libyan Embassy. "We value the assistance of French and Mauritanian authorities in facilitating Senussi's arrest. We are ready to cooperate with international justice in providing him with a fair trial in Libya," Suliman stated.
Senussi is the husband of Muammar Gaddafi's sister-in-law. Mauritanian state security has moved Senussi to a secret location for questioning.