Libya's Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur speaks at a news conference in Tripoli.
Libya's Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur speaks at a news conference in Tripoli. Reuters

Libyan Vice Premier, Mustafa Abushagur, announced that Mauritania has agreed to extradite Moammar Gaddafi's former intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, to Libya.

I have met the President of Mauritania and he agreed to the extradition of Senussi to Libya, tweeted Prime Minister Abushagur after meeting with Mauritanian President, Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz, on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Libyan government, Nasser al-Manei, confirmed the news.

We have obtained an agreement from Mauritania to deliver Senussi to Libya where he will receive a fair trial. No date has been decided upon but it will be very soon, al-Manei told Agence France Press (AFP).

The decision favors Libya in a multi-party tug-of-war for al-Senussi's extradition.

Since al-Senussi's arrest late last week upon entering Mauritania with an illegal Malian passport, three major parties including French courts, Interpol, and Libya have pressed for his extradition.

Nicknamed the Butcher, al-Senussi is wanted by the Libyan interim government for collaborating with the late brutal dictator Gaddafi in a spate of crimes. However, specific charges have yet to be determined.

France, reported to have helped with the arrest of al-Senussi, wants to try him for the bombing of a French airliner in 1989. The plane exploded over Niger, killing 170 people on board of which 54 were French nationals.

Interpol, the international criminal police, headquartered in France issued a red notice for the extradition of al-Senussi on charges of embezzling public funds and abuse of power, according to the BCC.

Al-senussi is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for violations of human rights. However, Mauritania is not a member of ICC.

Before the Libyan claim to al-Senussi's extradition, Mauritania appeared most likely to hand over the convict to France. French and Mauritanian officials had reportedly already reached some kind of agreement before his arrest, according to The Guardian.

But in a most recent development, the ICC stated it would risk taking legal action against France if the country acted independently of the member organization by trying al-Senussi domestically.

If France seeks to extradite Senussi, or to have first national procedures before surrendering him to the court, that is a matter that would be debated before the judges. I cannot anticipate what their decision would be, Fadi el-Abdullah, spokesman for the ICC, told The Guardian.

Concerning Libya, there have been doubts whether the interim government could handle prosecuting such a prominent criminal suspect as al-Senussi, although they have promised to give the ex-spy chief a fair trial.