October 20, 2011 / 9:04 PM / 9 years ago

Gaddafi spy chief believed to be hiding in Niger-formin

PARIS, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Niger’s foreign minister said on Thursday that he had been informed by Western countries that Muammar Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi had fled across the border into the extreme north of Niger.

Senussi is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The brother-in-law of the former Libyan leader, who was killed on Thursday, Senussi has been accused of ordering the murder and persecution of civilians throughout Libya during the collapse of Gaddafi’s 42-year rule this year.

“It seems that he is in the extreme north of Niger. It is the Western countries which have informed us,” Mohammed Bazoum told Reuters by telephone from Niger.

Britain had been the first to provide information on Senussi’s whereabouts, but it had been corroborated by other Western governments, Bazoum said.

One Western diplomatic source in Paris confirmed Senussi was believed to be hiding in the desolate, lawless north of Niger.

Bazoum said that, given the remote nature of the region, it was very hard for the government in Niamey to confirm the information.

Dozens of Gaddafi loyalists, including one of his sons Saadi, fled to Niger in September and are being sheltered in Niamey.

Niger has resisted appeals for them to be handed over to Libya’s new rulers, saying Tripoli could send investigators if it wanted to question them.

Bazoum said that Gaddafi’s death on Thursday had not changed Niamey’s position. He noted that a U.N. resolution prevented Saadi from travelling.

“There have not been any official requests to extradite him,” Bazoum said.

International police agency Interpol on Thursday appealed for another of Gaddafi’s sons, Saif al-Islam, to turn himself in, offering to guarantee his safe passage to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity.

Officials of Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council said on Thursday they did not know whether Saif al-Islam was dead or alive. (Reporting by John Irish; writing by Daniel Flynn Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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