Thursday, February 07, 2013

Trial Chamber Orders Immediate Surrender of Abdullah Al-Senussi to ICC by Libyan Authorities

Abdullah al-Senussi, Libya's former director of military intelligence
Former head of Libyan Armed Forces and Military Intelligence Abdullah Al-Senussi. Photo: Paul Hackett /Reuters

By Catherine Mullin

The Judges of Trial Chamber I yesterday ordered Libyan authorities to immediately transfer Abdullah Al-Senussi to the ICC. Al-Senussi, the former head of the Libyan Armed Forces and Military Intelligence, is wanted by the Court on charges of crimes against humanity. An arrest warrant for Al-Senussi was issued by the Court in June 2011. The UN Security Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC in February 2011, the first unanimous referral to the Court by the Security Council. The referral gave the Court jurisdiction over Libya, though it is not a State Party.

The Libyan government contested the admissibility of the case against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, his co-defendant, after the arrest warrant for them were issued, but the challenge did not include the case against Al-Senussi. This appears to have been decisive; according to the judges, "the postponement of a surrender request pursuant to [Article 95 of the Rome Statute] can only be made '[w]here there is an admissibility challenge under consideration'." No such admissibility challenge is underway and thus Libya may not "postpone the execution of a request under this Part pending a determination by the Court," as provided for in that article.

In January 2013, the Libyan authorities claimed to be nearing the beginning of pre-trial proceedings for Al-Senussi in their own Chamber of Accusation. However, there has been no evidence of any such action by the Libyan government. Al-Sensussi’s defense team has repeatedly requested his immediate transfer to the ICC, but to date Al-Senussi remains in Libyan custody. Today's decision also sets in motion a possible visit by Al-Senussi's ICC-appointed lawyer to his client in Libya.

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