ICC to investigate Gaddafi for crimes against humanity
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at The Hague has said he will investigate Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle for possible crimes against humanity committed during the crackdown on anti-regime protests.
AFP - World court prosecutors launched a probe Thursday into Moamer Kadhafi, his sons and key aides for crimes against humanity arising from a bloody crackdown on Libya's popular revolt.
A day after the embattled Libyan leader warned that "thousands" would die if the West launched a military intervention in Libya, International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo warned Kadhafi's inner circle they would be held to account for acts committed by "their people."
"The office of the prosecutor decided to open an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed in Libya," Moreno-Ocampo said in The Hague, citing information that "peaceful demonstrators were attacked by security forces."
"We have identified some individuals... who had authority over the security forces who allegedly committed the crimes. They are Moamer Kadhafi, his inner circle, including some of this sons," the prosecutor told journalists.
He said he hoped to ask ICC judges for arrest warrants within "a few months", adding: "We are trying to be very fast."
As rebels continued their fight and the world clamoured for action to protect refugees and stop Kadhafi using warplanes against his own people, the veteran leader said on state television that the battle against foreign intervention would be "very, very long", warning of "hell and a bloodbath -- worse than Iraq".
The probe of Kadhafi's "inner circle" would include the regime's spokesman, the commander of the 32nd Brigade and the national security advisor, according to a prosecution document.
Moreno-Ocampo "put on notice" a group of key Kadhafi aides, who "should pay attention to crimes committed by their people because if they are not preventing, stopping or punishing these crimes, they will be responsible".
They included the foreign minister, the head of the regime's security and military intelligence, the head of the veteran Libyan leader's personal security, and the head of the Libyan External Security Organisation.
He did not name names.
More than 100,000 people have fled Libya to escape a vicious crackdown by Kadhafi loyalists that has left at least 1,000 dead since a rebellion started on February 15, according to UN estimates -- at least 6,000 according to one Libyan human rights group.
Moreno-Ocampo's probe follows a referral by the United Nations Security Council, which said at the weekend that "the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity".
"In the coming weeks the (prosecutor's) office will investigate who are most responsible for the most serious incidents, for the most serious crimes committed in Libya," said the prosecutor.
"The office will present its evidence to the judges and the judges will decide on whether or not to issue arrest warrants."
He said the "worst incidents" of violence happened in Benghazi, Misratah, Al-Bayda, Derna, Zenten, Ajdabiya, Tripoli and Az-Zawiyah between February 15 and 20.
In the course of its investigation, the office of the prosecutor would liaise with the UN, the African Union, the Arab League, individual states and Interpol.
Moreno-Ocampo stressed that opposition groups could also be prosecuted if they committed crimes under the court's jurisdiction.
"There will be no impunity in Libya."
The ICC is the world's only independent, permanent tribunal with the jurisdiction to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Its prosecutor welcomed the world's "united" stance on Libya, saying: "The bad news is there are crimes there, that is very bad. The good news is the world is reacting faster."