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Libya in tussle to extradite Senussi

Libya rejected claims yesterday that its judiciary is too ramshackle to try Abdullah al-Senussi, Muammar Gaddafi's notorious spy chief.

Interpol issued an arrest and extradition request on behalf of Libya's provisional government after police in Mauritania detained Mr Senussi last Friday.

But Libya's ruling National Transitional Council's attempt to try the most reviled figure in the Gaddafi regime, apart from the late dictator himself, was in danger of being thwarted after France and the International Criminal Court also filed formal extradition requests.

The tussle comes after international human rights groups warned that Libya's judicial system remained too weak to give Mr Senussi a fair trial. But officials said they have worked hard to remedy shortfalls.

"Our courts are very good, even excellent, especially in Tripoli, and we are able to carry out his trial according to international standards," Ali Hmeida Ashur, the Libyan justice minister, said.

Mr Senussi is accused of presiding over a system of torture and extra-judicial execution that became the mainstay of a culture of terror in Libya. Among the most serious charges is the Abu Salim prison massacre of 1996, when about 1,200 mainly Islamist inmates were killed.

A French court sentenced him in absentia to life imprisonment in 1999 after ruling that he was responsible for a bomb attack on a passenger plane over Niger 10 years earlier. Most of the 170 who died were French. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent