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Niger 'obliged' to co-operate with ICC

2011-10-27 10:25

The Hague - Niger has an obligation to co-operate in bringing to justice Libyan fugitives Saif al-Islam and Abdullah al-Senussi, wanted by the International Criminal Court, a court spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"There is definitely an obligation on Niger to co-operate as it is a state party to the Rome Statute," the ICC's founding document, said Fadi El Abdallah.

But he slapped down media reports suggesting either man wanted to hand himself over to the ICC, saying he had "no information or confirmation."

"It is something we would have to follow up with the Council," El Abdallah told AFP, referring to Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC).

Slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son and one-time heir apparent, Saif al-Islam was on Tuesday poised to cross into Niger along with Senussi, his father's ex-intelligence chief, a Tuareg official said.

The two are the most wanted fugitives from the slain despot's ousted circle and are wanted by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity, committed after the start of the uprising against Gaddafi’s regime in mid-February. The ICC issued arrest warrants against the three on June 27.

Both are widely expected to seek refuge in Niger following Gaddafi’s death last week.

Libya's southern neighbour, which for years was one of the west African countries that benefited most from Gaddafi’s largesse, is already sheltering dozens of former regime officials, including another of Gaddafi’s sons.

Gaddafi, who lorded over the oil-rich north African nation for 42 years, met a violent end on Thursday following his capture by fighters of Libya's new regime.

France may demand Senussi's extradition if he is arrested by Niamey, since a Paris court sentenced him in absentia to life in prison for the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airliner that claimed 170 lives.

So far 32 members of Gaddafi’s entourage including his playboy former footballer son Saadi have taken refuge in Niger for "humanitarian" reasons.

Also among them are three generals and the head of Gaddafi’s personal bodyguards, Mansur Daou, according to the authorities who say they are under surveillance but have not been detained.