Takieddine, Sarkozy seek grace for Gaddafi’s murderous security chief and airline bomber, Abdullah Senussi

File published on
30.07.2011

While France sought the favour of the Libyan regime of Colonel Gaddafi, with the aim of winning numerous commercial contracts, Nicolas Sarkozy’s team did all it could, through the mediating services of Ziad Takieddine, to give a favourable response to one of Gaddafi’s first demands. This was to put an end to the judicial consequences of a life imprisonment sentence pronounced by a French court in 1999 against Gaddafi’s brother-in-law and security chief, Abdullah Senussi, for his part in the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airline passenger plane over Niger, in which 170 people lost their lives. Following the in absentia sentence, an international arrest warrant was issued against Senussi. Lawyer Thierry Herzog, a personal friend of Sarkozy’s and subsequently his legal counsel after the latter became president, was contacted by a Libyan law firm to assess Abdullah Senussi’s chances of appealing his conviction in absentia for the 1989 UTA airliner bombing. The possibility of a visit by Herzog to Tripoli, for which "all travel expenses would be covered" by the Libyan regime, is also mentioned in the letter addressed to him by Senussi’s Libyan lawyer Azza Maghur. The correspondence followed on a meeting held just days earlier when Maghur asked Herzog how the amended rules on in absentia trials (under the French ‘Perben II’ law of 2004) might change the situation for the six Libyans, including Senussi, found guilty and sentenced for the bombing.

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