Libya Got Al-Senussi the Old-Fashioned Way: It Bought Him

by Kevin Jon Heller

Mark Kersten has the scoop at Justice in Conflict:

So why, then, did Mauritania do it or, perhaps more accurately, how did Libya convince Mauritania to change its tune?

Having reached out to various contacts to see whether anyone knew what had changed Mauritania’s mind, a number of individuals quickly responded that there was only one possible motivation: money. While certainly not far-fetched, I thought there must be something else to the story – economic cooperation, perhaps some oil concessions, or the development of stronger geopolitical ties. Turns out I was wrong and it had everything to do with money.

According to numerous sources, including Der Spiegel and the Libyan Herald, Libya paid 200 million US dollars in order to guarantee Senussi’s transfer. While some Libyan officials have denied that there was any direct transfer of cash, rumours persist that the money was transfered to Mauritania via an off-shore account.

Importantly, the buying the custody of a former Gaddafi regime official would be in line with recent practice. The extradition of former Libyan Prime Minister, Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi, in June was guaranteed by a payment of “a sum of $100m and another $100m as an interest-free loan” to Tunisia. Interestingly, Libya’s Finance Minister, Hassan Zaglam, was on the plane that brought Senussi back to Libya. This fact has only fueled speculation that Libya paid Mauritania off. After all, it is certainly uncommon for Finance Ministers to be involved in extradition negotiations.

Great work by Mark.  What a bizarre and wasteful move by the Libyan government — as Mark notes, $200m is more than the ICC’s entire yearly operating budget.

4 Responses

  1. Fascinating indeed.  Assuming that there is a market for purchasing extradition of wanted human rights offenders, this suggests that the market price is quite high.  Or to put it another way, the ICC is cheap compared to what the market will bear for similar services?

    I have been quite interested for a while in trying to figure out what the value of ICJ is. Perhaps these sorts of “arms-length” deals between sovereign states can be used to put a value on the kinds of services the ICC provides.

  2. Response…
    Think of the money the U.S. can make for Dick Cheney!

  3. To be fair to Libya, think of the money we spent on getting OBL. Granted, we were presumably investing in our own capacity to do it ourselves rather than shoveling it over to a foreign state. But if something like that becomes enough of a domestic political imperative, price presumably is no issue. And whatever their capacity may be to do so in line with international standards, the Libyans certainly have a few good reasons to want to come to terms with Mr. Al-Senussi.

  4. If Libya is willing to pay USD$200 million to secure Al-Senussi’s extradtion, what should the Zintani brigade demand in order to facilitate the transfer of Saif Gaddafi to Libyan authorities?

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