ICC judges issue arrest warrants for Gaddafi

THE HAGUE — The International Criminal Court issued a war crimes arrest warrant for Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi as Tripoli dismissed the ruling saying the court had no authority and was a tool of Western powers.

By (AFP)

Published: Tue 28 Jun 2011, 12:37 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 10:45 PM

But Monday’s move was hailed by rights bodies and the West on the 100th day of a NATO bombing campaign.

Libya rejected the warrants issued for Gaddafi, 69, his son Seif Al Islam, 39, and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah Al Senussi, 62, for atrocities committed in a bloody uprising that began mid-February.

The ruling is a ‘cover for NATO which is still trying to assassinate Gaddafi’, said Libya’s justice minister, Mohammed Al Gamudi.

Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaaim said the ICC ‘functions as a European foreign policy vehicle.

‘It is a political court which serves its European paymasters,’ he said, adding: ‘Our own courts will deal with any human rights abuses and other crimes committed in the course of conflict in Libya.’

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo sought the warrants as thousands died in fighting and an estimated 650,000 people fled the country with Gaddafi clinging to power despite NATO strikes easing the siege of key rebel cities.

The Libyan government said Monday that a luxury bus parked at the leader’s Tripoli residence had been destroyed in the latest of the raids, which started on March 19.

The White House hailed the ICC warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity, describing the move as ‘another indication’ that Gaddafi has lost all legitimacy.

Britain, another leading member of the UN-mandated effort to protect civilians against Gaddafi’s forces, also welcomed the decision. ‘Individuals throughout the regime should abandon Gaddafi,’ Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the warrant ‘confirms that the question is not whether Gaddafi should leave power, but when he will leave power’.

The ICC said the three men were wanted for their roles in suppressing the revolt, in which civilians were murdered and persecuted by Libyan forces, particularly in Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata.

Al-Gamudi noted that his country was not a signatory to the tribunal’s founding Rome Statute, and ‘does not accept the jurisdiction of the court’.

The only other warrant issued by the court for a sitting head of state, for Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir in March 2009, has yet to be executed. Bashir on Tuesday began a state visit to China, which is also not a signatory of the statute.

The head of Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, told a news conference in the rebel capital of Benghazi that ‘justice had been done’.

In The Hague, rebel justice minister Mohammed Al Allagy told reporters outside the ICC: ‘We are going to arrest them.’

Al-Allagy said: ‘First arrest them, we will decide afterwards where to prosecute them.’

In his submission, Moreno-Ocampo said Gaddafi had a personal hand in planning and implementing ‘a policy of widespread and systematic attacks against civilians and demonstrators and dissidents in particular’.

‘Gaddafi’s plan expressly included the use of lethal force against demonstrators and dissidents,’ the prosecutor contended.

The Libyan strongman ordered the shooting of civilians leaving mosques after evening prayers, said the submission, and his forces carried out a systematic campaign of arrest and detention of alleged dissidents.

‘Gaddafi’s plans were carried out through his inner circle, which included Seif Al Islam, Gaddafi’s de-facto prime minister and his brother-in-law Al Senussi, considered to be his right-hand man,’ the document said.

Moreno-Ocampo’s investigation follows a referral by the United Nations Security Council on the Libyan conflict on February 26. The prosecutor’s office launched its investigation five days later. On May 16, Moreno-Ocampo asked the court for the warrants.

The prosecutor will react to the decision at a press conference on Tuesday.

The ICC is the world’s only permanent, treaty-based court set up to try those accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide if the accused’s own country cannot or will not do so.

Michael Bochenek from Amnesty International said in a statement: ‘A failure to arrest and prosecute the accused men would send a disturbing message that such crimes can continue to be committed with impunity.’

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