NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania – The man who ran Libya's extensive spy network and was considered one of the closest confidants of ex-leader Moammar Gadhafi was indicted in Mauritania on Monday and transferred to a public jail, according to a justice official.
Abdullah al-Senoussi, Libya's former head of intelligence, is wanted by the International Criminal Court, as well as by France and Libya for crimes allegedly committed during his time at Gadhafi's side.
The judge in Mauritania is indicting al-Senoussi on a technicality, after the ex-spy chief tried to enter Mauritania disguised as a Tuareg chieftain, said the official who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.
On the run since the fall of Tripoli last year, al-Senoussi attempted to enter the Nouakchott airport in March on a fake Malian passport, after boarding a flight from Morocco. He attempted to cross the passport control wearing the elaborate headdress and the flowing robes associated with the Tuareg nomads, an ethnic group that was closely allied with Gadhafi and who live in the band of countries including Mali located at the base of the Sahara Desert.
The justice official said that al-Senoussi is being indicted for "illegally entering Mauritania using false identity documents." The official said that the judge met the prosecutor as well as al-Senoussi early on Monday to review the case, before deciding to go ahead with the indictment. The ex-spy chief was transferred to the central prison, along with his nephew, who arrived in Mauritania alongside him and whose identity has not been disclosed.
In Mauritania, indictments are issued during a secret proceeding, in which the judge meets with the prosecutor as well as with the accused. The matter becomes public once the trial opens.
The ex-spy chief was considered Gadhafi's "black box" and known to be among his inner circle of confidants. He was also the ousted leader's brother-in-law. He is wanted in Libya for a number of crimes, including his alleged role in the Abu Salim prison massacre of more than 1,200 prisoners by Gadhafi's regime in 1996.
Al-Senoussi is also wanted in France, where he and five other Libyans were convicted in absentia and sentenced to life in prison for the 1989 bombing of a passenger jet over Niger that killed all 170 people on board, including 54 French nationals. Both the French and Libyan governments have asked that he be handed over when captured.
The International Criminal Court, based in The Netherlands, has also requested his extradition. After Gadhafi, and Gadhafi's son, al-Senoussi is the third member of the fallen regime that is wanted by the ICC. The world court issued an arrest warrant for al-Senoussi last June on two counts of crimes against humanity — murder and persecution — for allegedly masterminding attacks on civilians in the early days of the uprising that eventually toppled Gadhafi. Mauritania is not a member of the court.