UN Urges Libya To Cooperate With ICC In The Case Of Abdullah Al-Senussi

The picture shows Abdullah al-Senussi, Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief after his arrival at a high security prison facility in Tripoli, on September 5, 2012.
The picture shows Abdullah al-Senussi, Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief after his arrival at a high security prison facility in Tripoli, on September 5, 2012.

New York – The Libyan government should cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) as it is seeking to try Muammar Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, a UN spokesman said Thursday.

“It will be for the ICC to consider Libya’s likely submission that it is able and willing to try Abdullah al-Senussi for crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC,” said Martin Nesirky at UN headquarters in New York.

“We encourage the Libyan authorities to cooperate with the ICC in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions.”

The 15-nation council had called for due process and international standards of fair trial to be applied in the prosecution of people accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Libya. The council had referred to the ICC the cases of Gaddafi, one of his sons and al-Senussi.

Al-Senussi was captured and held by Mauritania last year after the fall of Gaddafi and was extradited to Libya on Wednesday.

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Abdullah al-Senussi: a trial of strength between the ICC and Tripoli

Decision on where he is tried is likely to hinge on whether the new Libyan government is deemed capable of holding a fair trial

Libya claims it can give Abdullah al-Senussi a fair trial, but the ICC has demanded that he be surrendered to The Hague.

What are the charges against Abdullah Senussi?

Senussi, with Muammar Gaddafi and Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, were indicted by the International Criminal Court in March 2011 at the request of the UN security council. Crimes against humanity charges include using his position of command to order attacks against opponents of Gaddafi.

So who will try him?

The ICC expects Senussi to be handed over to it. “The Libyan government is obliged to co-operate with the court and in principle to transfer him to the court,” said a spokeswoman, Sonia Robla. “The ICC arrest warrant for al-Senussi remains in force and Libya has an obligation to surrender him without delay to The Hague.”

Amnesty International agreed, warning that he faced “an unfair trial”. Libya, however, has said that it wants to try him. A similar dispute over Saif al-Islam remains to be settled pending an ICC ruling. No decision is likely until a new Libyan government has been named – probably by next week.

Is there room for compromise?

Yes. The ICC is supposed to be used only if a state is unable or unwilling to try a serious case. So a decision will hinge on whether Libya is deemed capable of doing so. The snag is that its justice system and treatment of Gaddafi-era prisoners has been heavily criticised. ICC judges will be facing an unprecedented dilemma.

Does Libya like the ICC?

No. Especially since a bizarre episode in which an ICC lawyer was accused of spying and handing confidential papers to Saif al-Islam in his prison in Zintan.

Will Senussi face the death penalty?

Yes, if the Libyans get their way. The ICC statute does not allow for it. Libya is likely to charge Senussi with other crimes as the ICC charges relate only to the events of 2011. “You could have a trial in Libya and then at the ICC,” said Geraldine Mattioli of Human Rights Watch. “But if he is tried in Libya first he may not be available for the ICC.” Libyan officials insist they are perfectly capable of staging a fair trial that corresponds with international standards. They say the most appropriate venue for Senussi to be tried is Libya, where most of his alleged crimes were commited.

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