By Ashraf Abdul Wahab.
Tripoli, 2 March 2013:
Unood Senussi, a 22 year-old daughter of Qaddafi’s imprisoned security chief Abdullah Senussi, who is . . .[restrict]herself held in a Tripoli jail, has been interviewed by the Libya Herald and said she was being well treated and had been allowed to visit her father.
Unood Senussi was arrested on 6 October at the Cleopatra Hotel in Dahra, Tripoli, shortly after she had flown into the country from Algeria. At the time Reuters reported an official as saying she was carrying a large quantity of US dollars. She has been charged with entering Libya on a false passport. At her first court appearance on 20 November, Senussi pleaded not guilty and claimed that her passport in the name of ‘Unood Abdallah Mohammed’ was genuine, even though it omitted her Senussi family name.
Senussi was interviewed by the Libya Herald in the presence of the prison director and his deputy, along with other prison staff at the Al-Ruwaimi jail in Ain Zara. No recording or photography was allowed.
Dressed in a black jacket with a brown headscarf, Senussi seemed in good health and appeared to speak freely. She said that she had come to Libya to see her father after his extradition from Mauritania, following his own detention in that country for travelling on a false Malian passport.
She said that she had originally been arrested by the military police and kept under house arrest for ten days, watched by a female guard, who, she said, had treated her well. She was then transferred to Al-Ruwaimi where she said that she has been detained with ten other women, who had all volunteered to join Qaddafi’s Peoples’ Guard. The treatment of her fellow prisoners, she claimed, was not as good as her own.
Senussi said that she had been allowed to visit her father but did not say where or when the encounter took place. Abdullah Senussi is being held in the Hadba prison, where a guard is currently charged with smuggling him a mobile phone.
She explained that her father had been in good health and had said that he was being given special food. He had told her that she should not have come back to Libya and that he had wanted her to stay with her mother and her siblings and look after them.
Unood Senussi told the Libya Herald that the prison authorities allowed her to call her mother in Egypt once a month and she had made four such calls. “My treatment here in the prison is good, ” she said, “ and my aunt has come to visit me twice”.
Of her father, she insisted he was “a good man, an affectionate human being. He did not do anything bad or wrong. He used to help all people. He used to never close the door of his house in the face of anyone. He was loved and never had any bodyguards. No one ever tried to kill him.”
She also said that she did not see Muammar Qaddafi as the Libyan leader, but as a member of the family, since he was married to her aunt. Her connection to him was “a family relationship”.
She said she had last seen Qaddafi at the beginning of the revolution, when he seemed anxious and tense. However, she recalled that he then spoke in private with her father and afterwards seemed relaxed and laid down.
“At the beginning of the air campaign against Libya,” said Senussi, “specifically on the first day of NATO’s bombardment of Tripoli, my father seemed very normal and did not show any tension or anxiety. He even returned home and went to sleep as usual”.
However, she added that the next day, because NATO fighters seemed to be making passes over their home “my father moved us out of the house. The next day the building was hit. Ten of our other houses were also bombed in Tripoli and other cities.
“When we left Tripoli, we headed first towards the south. From there we went to Algeria through the desert and from there we went to Egypt. My older brother Mohamed was killed during the fighting between the city of Tarhunah and Bani Walid. He used to live in Italy before the revolution.”
It appears that the revolt against Qaddafi’s rule was not a complete surprise to Abdullah Senussi. His daughter told the Libya Herald: “About three or four years before the revolution, my father spoke with me and asked me to be strong and told me to expect the occurrence of such events. He said to me that the [political] position will not remain the same for ever and that the situation could change overnight. He told me that I should always be strong and be ready for this day.”
Of her experience in the jail, Senussi said: “The prison director is like a brother to me. But I hated him when I first came here, especially when I learnt that he was one of those who tried to kill my father during the Libyan revolution.”
Looking to her future Senussi said: “When I get out of prison, I will finish my studies in the field of law I will do all that I can to support my father and have him transferred to the International Criminal Court to stand trial. I will also contact international organisations to help my father. When he was arrested in Mauritania, I contacted one of the opposition TV stations and urged them to exert pressure on the government to release my father.” [/restrict]