Abdullah Sanussi is seen speaking to the media in Tripoli, Libya on August 21, 2011.

UPDATE: As of January 2012, Abdullah Sanussi’s location remained unknown.  Libya’s General Prosecutor told Human Rights Watch: “Officially we don’t have him.” 

(New York) – Libyan authorities should treat humanely Abdullah Sanussi, Muammar Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, who was reportedly captured in southern Libya, Human Rights Watch said today. The Libyan authorities should ensure Sanussi’s safety and promptly transfer him to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for fair trial.

“Sanussi has been implicated in terrible crimes in Libya for which he should be prosecuted,” said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “But Sanussi’s capture will best serve justice if he is protected from harm and quickly transferred to the ICC for a fair trial.”

Sanussi is subject to an ICC arrest warrant for crimes against humanity in an investigation authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970. The resolution requires the Libyan authorities to cooperate with any ICC investigation into serious crimes committed in Libya, including by surrendering ICC suspects.

In addition to alleged crimes against humanity he committed during 2011, Sanussi has been implicated in many serious human rights violations during Gaddafi’s rule, including the June 1996 killing of an estimated 1,200 prisoners in Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison. Former prisoners from that time have told Human Rights Watch that when prisoners staged a revolt to complain about poor prison conditions, Sanussi came to negotiate with them and promised them safe treatment and medical care if they returned to their cells. The prisoners did so but were then shot and killed by security forces.