Abdullah al-Senussi

Abdullah al-Senussi, director of military intelligence in the Gaddafi regime, was charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity in 2011. ICC extradition halted after Libya challenged admissibility of the case. Sentenced to death by a Libyan court 2015.
Case status: 
Abdullah al-Senussi, director of military intelligence in the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, was charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity following the outbreak of popular demonstrations in Libya in February 2011. Libya successfully challenged the ICC case, with ICC judges ruling that national proceedings against al-Senussi would take precedence under the Rome Statute principle of complementarity.

Senussi was deported from Mauritania, where he had fled, back to Libya in 2012, where he was detained pending trial. Libyan authorities successfully challenged the admissibility of al-Senussi´s case before the ICC, with ICC appeals judges ruling that, as the same case was the subject of genuine domestic proceedings, the ICC case should not move forward. In 2015, a Libyan court in Tripoli sentenced al-Senussi, fellow ICC suspect Saif Gaddafi and seven other former government officials to death. The trial and verdicts generated an international outcry over allegations of serious due process violations. 


Gaddafi inner circle suspected of crimes against humanity against civilians in 2011 

The ICC prosecutor alleged that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle devised and implemented a state-level policy to quell, including by use of lethal force, civilian demonstrations against Muammar Gaddafi’s government in 2011. Reports at the time suggested hundreds of civilians were killed and injured as well as arrested and imprisoned.  

Libya was the first ICC situation to be unanimously referred by the UN Security Council. The ICC prosecutor concluded a preliminary examination of the situation within one week of the referral, opening a full investigation into potential Rome Statute crimes committed since 15 February 2011.  

ICC arrest warrants were issued for Muammar al-Gaddafi (withdrawn following his death), his son and de facto prime minister Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, and Abdullah al-Senussi, director of military intelligence in the Gaddafi regime.


The ICC prosecutor alleged that Abdullah al-Senussi is criminally responsible as an indirect perpetrator for murder and persecution committed as crimes against humanity between 15 February 2011 and at least 20 February 2011 in Libya.  


Libya challenges admissibility of ICC case 

The government of Libya challenged the admissibility of the ICC case against al-Senussi based on the principle of complementarity, which holds that the ICC will only investigate and prosecute individuals if the state concerned cannot or will not do so genuinely. ICC proceedings against al-Senussi came to an end when the Appeals Chamber confirmed a decision declaring the case inadmissible before the ICC as it was currently the subject of domestic proceedings conducted by the competent Libyan authorities. This is the first time that judges have found in favor of a government challenge to ICC jurisdiction over a case. Some civil society groups criticized the Appeals Chamber ruling and voiced concern over the Libyan government’s ability to conduct fair legal proceedings against Al-Senussi.  

The ICC prosecutor informed the UN Security Council in May 2016 that her office had conducted a preliminary review of al-Senussi’s Libyan court judgment and had not uncovered any facts that would negate Pre-Trial Chamber I’s finding that al-Senussi’s case is inadmissible at the ICC.

Death sentence prompts outcry 

On 28 July 2015, a Libyan court in Tripoli convicted al-Senussi, fellow ICC suspect Saif Gaddafi and seven other former government officials. They were then sentenced to death. The trial and verdicts generated an international outcry over allegations of serious due process violations. Coalition member the International Federation for Human Rights urged the Libyan Supreme Court to review the verdicts and sentences and the ICC to reconsider its inadmissibility decision in the Abdullah al-Senussi case.