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Gaddafi ex-spy chief investigation completed, charged next week

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 25 Jan 2013 16:42 GMT
Author: Reuters
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TRIPOLI, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Libya's prosecutor general has completed the interrogation of Muammar Gaddafi's ex-spy chief and will be ready to charge him in one week, the prosecutor general's official spokesman said on Friday.

Abdullah Senussi was handed over to Libya last September after being extradited by Mauritania to face charges of crimes against humanity.

"Questioning Senussi is finished now and we have more than 2000 pages worth of evidence against him documented," spokesman Taha Bara told Reuters. He said charges against Senussi would be announced in one week, and he would appear in court for the first time in two weeks.

Libyan authorities are keen to show they have the ability to try members of the former government, and Senussi's trial will help boost a government struggling to attract investment and control former rebels who have refused to put down their arms.

Bara said there had been some discussion in the prosecutor general's office about whether to try Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, and Senussi together, but a decision had not been made.

"We see many connections between the trials of Saif al-Islam and Senussi, so there is an option being discussed to combine the two," Bara said.

Saif al-Islam appeared in court last Thursday for the first time since his capture more than a year ago.

He appeared in court in the western town of Zintan, where he is being held by former rebels, to face charges related to a visit by an International Criminal Court (ICC) lawyer last year.

Senussi, one of the most feared members of Gaddafi's regime before rebels toppled it in 2011, was captured in Mauritania last March, triggering a tug of war between Libya, France and the International Criminal Court over his extradition.

Documents obtained by Reuters in early January showed that Libya authorised a payment of almost ${esc.dollar}200 million to Mauritania months after it extradited the Libyan ex-spy chief to face trial at home in defiance of an International Criminal Court warrant for his arrest.

In the documents, Libyan officials said it was made as aid for Mauritania, a poor West African country with which Tripoli has had important investment ties.

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Senussi was arrested early last year after arriving with a false Malian passport on a flight to the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, from Morocco. Mauritania initially planned to put him on trial for illegal entry - a move that threatened to delay efforts to have him face international justice.

In its warrant for Senussi's arrest, the Hague-based ICC said he had used his position of command to have attacks carried out against opponents of Gaddafi, who was hunted down and killed by rebels after his ouster in October 2011.

France wants to try Senussi in connection with a 1989 airliner bombing over Niger in which 54 of its nationals died.

Senussi has also been linked to the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland of a U.S. passenger plane that killed 270 people. Diplomatic sources have said the United States was keen to question him about that. (Reporting By Ali Shuiab; Writing By Hadeel Al-Shalchi; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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