Court in The Hague seeks arrest of Gadafy

 

THE CHIEF prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has asked its judges to issue arrest warrants for the Libyan leader Col Muammar Gadafy, his son Saif al-Islam, and his security chief, accusing all three of crimes against humanity.

The prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said evidence handed to the judges would show that Col Gadafy had personally ordered attacks on unarmed civilians and held regular meetings with his son, and with security chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi, to plan operations.

The request for arrest warrants comes just 10 weeks after the UN Security Council asked the ICC to investigate allegations of crimes following anti-government protests on February 15th – the start of the bloodiest revolt of the so-called Arab spring.

As many as 700 people are believed to have been killed during the month of February alone. The judges of the ICC’s pre-trial chamber now have to decide if the evidence presented by the prosecutor is adequate to support the warrants.

It is understood that ICC investigators have interviewed more than 50 witnesses – including “key insiders” – during 30 missions to 11 countries, as well as reviewing more than 1,200 documents, videos, photographs and other evidence.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said that Col Gadafy had ordered his forces to attack civilians in their homes, to use live ammunition against demonstrators, to shell funeral processions and had deployed snipers to target prayer-goers leaving mosques.

The chief prosecutor told a press conference at ICC headquarters in The Hague: “The evidence shows that such persecution is still going on, as I speak, in parts of Libya which remain under Gadafy’s control.

“Alleged dissidents are being arrested, imprisoned in Tripoli, tortured and made to disappear. These are not just crimes against Libyans, they are crimes against humanity as a whole.”

He said this crackdown was being ordered by Col Gadafy “with the goal of preserving his absolute authority”.

“The evidence shows that Gadafy relies on this inner circle to implement a systematic policy of suppressing any challenge to that authority. His second-oldest son, Saif al-Islam, is the de facto prime minister, and Sanoussi, Gadafy’s brother-in-law, his right-hand man, the executioner, head of military intelligence – he personally commanded some of the attacks.”

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said ICC prosecutors were studying evidence relating to the alleged commission of war crimes since the Libyan confrontation developed into a full armed conflict, particularly allegations of rape and attacks against sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries. “There will be no impunity for such crimes in Libya.”

He told reporters that his team had gathered so much evidence that he was almost ready to go to trial. However, the prospect of Col Gadafy finding himself in The Hague any time soon remains unlikely.

The ICC has no police force and relies on member states to enforce arrests, but Libya is not an ICC member state and is therefore not obliged to arrest the court’s suspects.

The Libyan government denounced the prosecutor’s announcement last night. Deputy foreign minister Khalid Kaim described the ICC as a creation of the West for prosecuting African leaders and said its practices were “questionable”.