Mauritanian authorities have handed over Muammar Gaddafi’s ex-spy chief to Libya nearly five months after he was arrested for entering the country illegally, state television reported.
“Mauritanian authorities hand over ex-Libyan spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi to Libya,” read a newsflash on the screen written in Arabic on Wednesday.
An official in the ministry of foreign affairs who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said that Senussi boarded a flight at 9am local time (09:00 GMT) and was headed to Tripoli.
A delegation from Libya, including the defence minister and army chief of staff, were in the capital Nouakchott on Tuesday for a visit which several official sources said was in connection with the extradition.
Senussi, a brother-in-law and feared former right-hand man of the slain Libyan dictator, was arrested in Mauritania in March and charged two months later for illegal entry and use of forged documents.
Libya has since pushed hard for the extradition of the man who is also wanted by France and the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
In July, Libya’s new authorities dispatched Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib to Nouakchott to press for the handover, but Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Mauritania’s president, said Senussi had to face justice for illegally entering
On June 27, 2011, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Senussi saying he was an “indirect perpetrator of crimes against humanity, of murder and persecution based on political grounds” in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
Benghazi was the birthplace of the Libyan revolt that started in February 2011 and eventually put an end to more than four decades of dictatorship. It led to the death of Gaddafi and the arrest of several of his allies.
Senussi is the target of another international arrest warrant after a Paris court sentenced him in absentia to life in prison for involvement in the bombing of a French UTA airliner over Niger in September 1989.
The plane was carrying 170 people from Brazzaville to Paris via N’Djamena.
That attack – along with the bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988 in which 270 people were killed – led to a UN-mandated air blockade of Libya in 1992.
Interpol had issued a so-called “red notice” for Senussi on behalf of Libya. The global police body said he was wanted “for fraud offences including embezzling public funds and misuse of power for personal benefit”.