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International Criminal Court To Charge Three With War Crimes In Libya

  • Nikola Krastev

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, gave no details on whose arrest he would seek.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, gave no details on whose arrest he would seek.

UNITED NATIONS -- The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) says he will seek at least three arrest warrants in his investigation into crimes against humanity in Libya.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo did not explicitly say that only members of the Qaddafi regime would be charged, but diplomats at the UN say privately that this is the most likely scenario.

Moreno-Ocampo told the UN Security Council on May 4 that "crimes against humanity have been and continue to be committed in Libya," but for now he is targeting just three people for arrest.

He gave no details on whose arrest he would seek.

"I will request the judges to issue arrest warrants against three individuals who appear to bear the greatest criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity committed in the territory of Libya since February15, 2011," Moreno-Ocampo said.

Moreno-Ocampo is investigating leader Muammar Qaddafi and some of his sons and aides over what he called a "predetermined plan" to attack protesters, after the UN Security Council referred the Libyan violence to the ICC in February.

He said he had witness accounts, videos, and picture evidence to support his case.

"In all the incidents to be presented to the judges, the victims who were shot at by the security forces were unarmed civilians, and in all these incidents, there is no evidence of any attack against the security forces," Moreno-Ocampo said.

Moreno-Ocampo told the 15-member council that "thousands" had died in Libya since the start of a popular uprising against the government in mid-February.

'Criminal, Not Political'

The ICC is working with the Commission on Inquiry on Libya, which was created by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. It will present its own findings to the Security Council at the end of May. At that point, more individuals may be charged.

Moreno-Ocampo said that 45 people have been interviewed so far, most of them witnesses to war crimes. He emphasized that the investigation was criminal in nature, not political.

"We interviewed crime-based witnesses -- people who were [there] at the moment the crime was committed," Moreno-Ocampo said. "And some of them are insiders -- people who provide information about how the system works."

More thorough investigation was needed, he said, specifically into the reported cases of brutal sexual violence.

The investigation will also look into the alleged extrajudicial killings of sub-Saharan Africans believed to be acting as mercenaries and the alleged mistreatment and killings of prisoners.

Broad Support

Mark Lyal Grant, the U.K. ambassador to the UN, said Britain endorsed the ICC's work in Libya.

"Others, including the [UN] high commissioner for human rights have highlighted the deliberate targeting of medical facilities and civilians, the use of children as combatants, the denial of humanitarian access, and the use of sexual violence as a weapon," Grant said.

"Given these indications of dreadful criminal acts, we as the international community must continue to support you in thoroughly investigating these allegations and holding those responsible to account."

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin also expressed Russia's support for the ICC investigation, but emphasized that the investigation must be impartial.

"We support the ICC efforts for fair and impartial investigation of the actions of all sides involved in the Libyan conflict, bringing to accountability of the persons presumably involved in the alleged crimes against humanity and the serious violations of the human rights in Libya," Churkin said.