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Mauritania hands over Libya's ex-spy chief

Mauritania has handed over Gadhafi's former spy chief to Libya, months after authorities arrested him. The decision follows a long-standing tug-of-war between Libya, the ICC and France for the figurehead.

FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011 file photo taken on a government-organized tour, Abdullah al-Senoussi, head of Libyan intelligence, speaks to the press as gunfire erupts all around the Rixos hotel in Tripoli, Libya. The Libyan information minister says Moammar Gadhafi's intelligence chief has been captured by revolutionary fighters in the south of the country. Mahmoud Shammam says that Abdullah al-Senoussi was captured alive on Sunday by a brigade from a southern region called Fazan.(Foto:Dario Lopez-Mills, File/AP/dapd)

Abdullah al Senussi

Mauritania extradited Moammar Gadhafi's former intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, to Libya on Wednesday, a Mauritanian government source and the country's state news agency reported.

"Mauritanian authorities hand over ex-Libyan spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi to Libya," read a newsflash broadcast by state television in Mauritania on Wednesday.

An anonymous official source also said al-Senussi had "effectively left Mauritania."

In Tripoli, Libyan foreign ministry spokesman Saad al-Shelmani did not confirm the extradition, but was positive about the news in theory.

"We have been asking for this move for a very long time and it will be very welcome if it is true," he said.

Al-Senussi fled Libya after Gadhafi was ousted and killed. He was arrested in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott in March after trying to fly in from Morocco on a false Malian passport. Mauritanian officials later charged al-Senussi for illegally entering the country.

Al-Senussi's arrest triggered a three-way dispute between Libya, France and the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding his extradition. In July, Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al Kib flew to Nouakchott to pressure Mauritania to hand over Gadhafi's former right-hand man, but to no avail.

The ICC also issued an arrest warrant for al-Senussi in the summer, claiming that he had been an "indirect perpetrator of crimes against humanity, of murder and persecution based on political grounds" in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Benghazi, located in eastern Libya, was the birthplace of the Libyan revolt, which broke out in February 2011.

Meanwhile, in France a Paris court sentenced him in absentia to life imprisonment for his hand in the bombing of a French plane over Niger in September 1989, making al-Senussi the target of another international arrest warrant.

sej/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)