By David Leask
HE IS wanted in Scotland in connection with the biggest mass murder in our history.
He has a death sentence hanging over his head from his own country. And he has enemies who wish to see him buried.
Yet Abdullah al-Senussi, Libya’s one-time intelligence chief, former dictator Mummer Gaddafi’s “executioner” and the ultimate boss of the man known as the Lockerbie bomber is not in jail or hiding. He is, according to local reports, “holding court” in a four-star hotel in Tripoli, the 351-room Radisson Blu Mahari.
Mr Senussi is one of two men Scotland’s Crown Office want to speak to about Lockerbie. They do not doubt the conviction of Abdelbast Al-Megrahi, who died in 2012 in Tripoli nearly three years after he was released from a Scottish jail on humanitarian grounds. They just don’t think Megrahi, who never admitted his guilt, acted alone.
The 1988 bombing of Pam Am Flight 103, prosecutors believe, was an operation of Libya’s intelligence system. Mr Senussi, who was married to Gaddafi’s wife sister and a confidante of the murderous Libyan leader, was a core player in that regime network. Scottish prosecutors have made no secret they wish to speak to Mr Senussi and another operative, Mohammed Masud.
Both men were believed to be in a Tripoli prison, so Scottish authorities hoped to get hold of them, before any death penalty on Mr Senussi was carried out.
However, Libya now only exists on maps. The country has been ruled by strongmen and rival factions since the 2011 civil war which followed the fall and death of Gaddafi. So prosecutors may wish to put Senussi in the dock but that is, politically, logistically and diplomatically, difficult.
First, there is a queue. The International Criminal Court has indicted the 64-year-old for crime against humanity. Second, they have to figure out who to ask for Senussi’s head. And that is not obvious.
The Libya Herald, an English-language news site, said Senussi was taken to the Radisson last month after the prison where he was being held, the notorious Al-Hadba, changed hands after fighting in May. Senussi is now thought to be under the control of the militia which captured the jail, Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigade of Hithaim Tajouri.
David Leask Chief Reporter of the Sunday Herald