Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief must be turned over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) without delay following his arrest in Mauritania on Saturday, Amnesty International said.
Abdullah al-Senussi is wanted by the ICC in The Hague in relation to its investigation into allegations that he was responsible for crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution, committed in Libya last year.
Following his arrest, French authorities requested that he be extradited to serve a life sentence in prison handed down at an in absentia trial for his role in the death of 170 people in the 1989 bombing of a French passenger plane.
Since crimes against humanity are crimes against the entire international community, ICC arrest warrants for these crimes should take precedence, Amnesty International said.
“The news of al-Senussi’s arrest is an important moment for the victims of his alleged crimes in Libya,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's Senior Crisis Response Advisor.
“But Libya’s court system does not function and its justice system remains weak and unable to conduct effective investigations into alleged crimes against humanity, none of which are crimes under Libyan law. The ICC remains the best-placed mechanism for accountability in Libya.”
“While Mauritania is not a state party to the Rome Statute, all governments were urged to cooperate fully with the ICC by the UN Security Council in its Resolution referring the situation in Libya to the ICC. The Mauritanian authorities should give priority to the ICC arrest warrant against al-Senussi and conduct legal proceedings for his transfer without delay.”
In June 2011, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Abdullah al-Senussi, along with Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, on two counts of crimes against humanity – murder and persecution – allegedly committed in Benghazi in February 2011 by members of armed forces under al-Senussi’s control.
Amnesty International believes that the ICC arrest warrant should be carried out as a matter of urgency to ensure alleged crimes against humanity committed in Libya do not go unpunished and that the victims’ rights to justice and full reparation are not delayed.
Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi was killed soon after his capture in October 2011, while Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi has been held in the north-western Libyan town of Zintan since his capture near the border with Niger several weeks later. He has not been brought before a judge and continues to be denied access to lawyers.
Amnesty International has repeatedly called for al-Senussi and other former Libyan officials to be investigated by a competent and independent court for alleged human rights violations that took place prior to 2011, as well as during last year's crackdown.