'I do not say that he is not guilty, I just say that he should have a fair trial," said Anoud Senussi in an interview with the Sunday Herald about her father, Abdullah Senussi, Colonel Gaddafi's former intelligence chief and the alleged mastermind behind the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.
At the former Libyan leader's side until the final months of the 2011 civil war, Abdullah fled with his family to Mauritania. According to Anoud, her father was betrayed by the Mauritanian president, who lured him to an airport meeting. "He was taken on to a plane and a man, the new Libyan minister of finance, was sitting there with $200 million in a bag. As soon as my father was on board, the minister handed over the bag. It was a business deal."
Held in Libya, Senussi faces charges over the 1996 massacre of more than 1000 inmates and for war crimes allegedly committed during the civil war. The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of crimes against humanity. Senussi's lawyers in London are seeking his transfer to the jurisdiction of the ICC, but their initial application, since appealed, was refused.
Loading article content
Anoud says her father is being held incommunicado, without access to a lawyer, and that he has suffered beatings. She herself was arrested by the Libyan authorities while, she says, visiting her father. "I begged to see my father, but they only let me see him for 10 minutes. He was so weak, so beaten, and then they took me away." Anoud has given the Sunday Herald a photograph of her father showing a haggard figure, his hair grey and cropped, his face gaunt and bruised.
As Libya's spy chief, Senussi is thought by many to have played a key role in the Lockerbie bombing. But while he was convicted in absentia by a French court for his role in the 1989 bombing of a UTA airliner, he has not been charged in connection with Lockerbie. Instead, in 2001, Scottish judges sitting in Holland sentenced Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, a Libyan spy, to life in prison in Scotland. Questions have been raised about the safety of the conviction, and whether he was handed over in part to divert attention from the true perpetrators.
On learning that Senussi had been flown to Libya, Scottish police hurried to Tripoli. It is not clear whether they interrogated him about Lockerbie but, in a statement to the Sunday Herald, Police Scotland did not rule out having spoken to him, and confirmed they had been to Libya in connection with Lockerbie. With Senussi held incommunicado, his London lawyers could not confirm whether Scottish police had questioned him.
According to Anoud, legal proceedings against her father are being influenced to prevent him reaching a public court, given what he must know as a former spy chief. "America, Britain, France - ask them why they do not let my father come to the ICC. They do not want him to speak." Without access to legal counsel, facing closed court in Libya and on a charge punishable by death, there is every chance Senussi will never be questioned in public about the Lockerbie bombing.
"There is no justice in Libya," said Anoud. "They will kill him in Libya. In the ICC, there is justice."