TRIPOLI: Muammar Qaddafi’s former right-hand man is languishing in a Libyan jail with kidney cancer and no access to lawyers, his daughter said on Wednesday, calling for him to get a fair trial.
Abdullah Al-Senussi, who as spy chief was one of Libya’s most feared men, fled the rebellion that toppled Qaddafi, but was captured in Mauritania and extradited back to Libya in September in an operation his daughter compared to a kidnapping.
“I haven’t spoken to him in over 60 days and his lawyer hasn’t been allowed in to see him,” Sarah Senussi said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
“Human rights organizations have asked repeatedly to visit him in jail and they have been refused also,” the 27-year-old told Reuters from an undisclosed location.
He did not have his medications with him and it is not known if he is receiving medical treatment in jail, she said.
Senussi is suspected of playing a central role in the killing of more than 1,200 inmates at Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison in 1996. It was the arrest of a lawyer acting for relatives of the victims that sparked the revolt in February last year.
Both the International Criminal Court (ICC) and France — which suspects him of involvement in a 1989 airliner bombing over Niger in which 54 of its nationals died — wanted to take him into custody.
The United States is also keen to question Senussi about the 1988 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland of US passenger plane that killed 270 people, diplomatic sources have said.
But a high-level Libyan delegation visited Mauritania and secured his extradition back to a country keen to try Qaddafi loyalists at home.
It was not clear if there was a court decision sanctioning his transfer from the West African country.
“At seven in the morning the Mauritanian authorities came in and told us that the president wanted to see him,” Sarah said.
“So he left with them even though we begged him not to go, but he did anyway.”
“It was the worst day of my life when I saw him on TV being taken back to Libya,” she said. “Now we only know his news from the Internet or TV and that’s not always accurate.”
Senussi’s younger daughter, 20-year-old Al-Unood, was arrested by the Libyan military police in October after entering the country from Algeria on a fake passport, apparently aiming to visit her father.
“I tried to convince her that it was not safe for her to go back to Libya, but she is the youngest and very attached to our father so she left without telling anyone,” Sarah said, adding that she was concerned for her sister’s legal rights.
“My sister was referred to a criminal court last Sunday without her or her lawyer being present at court,” Sarah said.
“We don’t know how she is doing in jail because her lawyer can’t visit her.”
Qaddafi’s son, Seif Al-Islam, is to go on trial in Libya this month, a government source said in August, in what would be the most high-profile prosecution of a figure from the late dictator’s 42 years in power.
But human rights activists worry that a weak central government and a relative lack of rule of law mean legal proceedings will not meet international standards.
Seif Al-Islam is also wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity during the uprising that brought down his father who was lynched by rebels last year.
Sarah said she understood the need for her father to face questions but said he deserved a fair hearing.
“My father has the right to a fair trial and a right to a proper investigation,” she said.
“Sure, the world has a right to know what he did and who Abdullah Senussi really is. But it must be transparent and legal.”