ICC finds evidence of crimes by Libyan regime

Chief prosecutor says he will pursue up to five warrants over crimes against humanity committed against civilians.

    Chief prosecutor says the Gaddafi regime carried out "systemic" attacks against civilians [AFP]

    The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) says he has unearthed "enough evidence" to pursue up to five warrants for crimes against humanity committed by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.

    Luis Moreno-Ocampo made the announcement on Tuesday, a day before he was to brief the UN Security Council on his investigation into alleged crimes commited by Gaddafi's forces.

    Gaddafi's forces have been battling rebels who are seeking to end the Libyan leader's more than 40-year rule. The fighting has resulted in human misery and led to allegations of excesses being committed against civilians.

    The investigation was ordered by the UN Secuirty Council when it passed resolutions in February allowing military action to protect civilians, and sanctions against Gaddafi.

    "We have been collecting evidence about crimes against humanity committed in Libya," Moreno-Ocampo told the AFP news agency.

    He said he believed he had enough evidence for cases to be launched.

    "We have security forces shooting civilians at demonstrations and evidence of security forces arresting people in different cities, including Tripoli, even today, because they think these people are not loyal," the prosecutor said.

    He said there had been a "massive arrest" of people who were not considered loyal.

    "In Libya it is illegal to challenge the story. They are arresting people who talk to journalists, and then they are torturing them."

    Khalid Kaim, Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister, dismissed the ICC allegations saying Moreno-Ocampo's report paints a partial picture.

    "Any decision or any conclusion can Mr. Ocampo draw out of his visit to Benghazi and to Egypt will be just one party review or one party position," Kaim said.

    "Of course, since we are not party of the ICC, we cannot invite Mr. Ocampo but instead of that we can invite another fact finding mission from the [UN] Security Council."

    Rape as a weapon

    Moreno-Ocampo also said there were allegations that Africans from other nations had been attacked in rebel territory because they were thought to be mercenaries.

    Alleged criminal incidents include security forces opening live fire at unarmed peaceful protesters, using rape as well as "systemic arrests, torture, killings, deportations, enforced disappearances and destruction of mosques" as a weapon, according to the prosecutor's report released on Wednesday.

    While a precise number is hard to provide, up to 700 people were killed in February alone, the report said. Gaddafi estimates that  "only 150 or 200" have been killed.

    Moreno-Ocampo said the exact number of cases pursued was yet to be decided, but between one and five would be presented to the Security Council.

    "We are still defining who are the most responsible according to the evidence," he said without giving the specific names of suspects.

    "I will inform the Security Council that we are ready, we will present the case. They can plan in advance how the warrants will be executed."

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has said almost 40,000 people have fled fighting in western Libya last month.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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