France says Senussi must stand trial for 1989 bombing

21st November 2011, Comments 0 comments

France said Monday it wants captured Libyan ex-spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi to face justice for the 1989 bombing of an airliner over Niger but is not immediately seeking his extradition.

Senussi, the brother-in-law of strongman ruler Moamer Kadhafi who was toppled in August, was arrested in Libya by the new regime's forces on Sunday and is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

A French court in 1999 sentenced him in absentia to life in prison for his role in the bombing of UTA Flight 772 over Niger a decade earlier that killed 170 people, including 54 French citizens.

"Six direct authors of this crime were tried and sentenced in absentia to life in prison by the Paris assizes court on March 10, 1999, including Abdullah al-Senussi," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

Valero noted that "to end the sentence in absentia, a trial with the accused present would need to be held in France" but did not call for Senussi's extradition to stand trial in France.

"Abdullah al-Senussi must be tried for the crimes he has committed. He is notably the subject of procedures at the International Criminal Court," Valero said.

"We will work with the concerned jurisdictions to make sure that he is also held to account, with respect for French law, for his responsibility in the attack on UTA's DC-10," he said.

The ICC in June issued an arrest warrant against Senussi, 62, for alleged crimes against humanity. The court has described Senussi as "one of the most powerful and efficient organs of repression of Moamer Kadhafi's regime."

© 2011 AFP

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