March 19, 2012 / 1:57 PM / 6 years ago

Libyan team heads to Mauritania in Senussi case

NOUAKCHOTT/TRIPOLI, March 19 (Reuters) - Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagour was flying to Mauritania on Monday to press for the handover of Muammar Gaddafi’s intelligence chief Abdallah al-Senussi, officials said.

Senussi, 62, the last major Gaddafi associate on the run since the dictator’s overthrow and death in a popular revolt last year, was arrested in Mauritania after his arrival late on Friday on a flight from Morocco. France and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague also seek custody of him.

Mauritania has made no official statement on Senussi, accused of playing a central role in repression and torture under Gaddafi, apart from a brief report by its official state news agency. A security source speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity said it had yet to take a decision on his fate.

Senussi was being held at the headquarters of the Mauritania’s security service in Nouakchott, sources there said. Diplomatic sources said he was carrying several false passports when detained.

Libyan Foreign Ministry spokesman Saad Elshlmani said it was not clear how long Shagour and his delegation would stay in Mauritania.

The ICC has indicted him for crimes against humanity, but Libya also wants him to face local justice. While Mauritania is not a signatory to the ICC, the court says it is bound to cooperate with it by a U.N. Security Council resolution.

France, 54 of whose nationals were killed in the bombing of a UTA airliner over Niger in 1989, is also seeking Senussi, who was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for his alleged role in the attack. (Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian in Tripoli and Laurent Prieur in Nouakchott)

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