New leaders want Saif al-Islam to be tried for war crimes in Libya, rather than in The Hague.
|Moreno-Ocampo said allegations of NATO and NTC atrocities will be probed ‘impartially and independently’ [Reuters]|
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said the court is still receiving information that Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam may try to flee Libya with the help of mercenaries.
“We are … receiving information that a group of mercenaries may be endeavouring to facilitate his [Saif al-Islam’s] escape from Libya,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.
“We are calling upon states to do all they can to disrupt any such operation.”
The prosecutor did not say where Saif al-Islam was hiding in Libya.
The Reuters news agency reported that Gaddafi’s son may be heading for Niger, which risks upsetting pro-Gaddafi Tuareg nomads if it hands him over to the ICC as it promised to do if he showed up there.
Moreno-Ocampo said people linked to Saif al-Islam had approached his office with questions “about the legal conditions attaching to his potential surrender to the court”.
They included “what would happen to him if he appeared before the judges, could he be sent back to Libya, what would happen if he were to be convicted, what would happen if he were acquitted?”
The intermediaries were told it would be possible to request that Saif al-Islam not be returned to Libya.
Crimes against humanity
Moreno-Ocampo also said he was investigating whether Gaddafi – killed last month by former rebels who are now government forces – and his spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, ordered mass rapes as they battled an uprising earlier this year.
Libya’s National Trasitional Council (NTC) said it wanted to try Saif al-Islam and Senussi in Libya. Both men have been indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity and other war crimes.
Moreno-Ocampo told the Security Council his investigations would not be confined to Gaddafi’s forces.
“There are allegations of crimes committed by NATO forces, allegations of crimes committed by NTC-related forces … as well as allegations of additional crimes committed by pro-Gaddafi forces,” he said in a speech to the council.
“These allegations will be examined impartially and independently by the [prosecution].”
NATO has denied allegations that it deliberately targeted civilians during its seven-month campaign of air strikes
against Gaddafi’s forces, which ended on Monday.
The NTC has vowed to investigate alleged executions and abuse of suspected Gaddafi supporters after claims by rights groups that rebel forces singled out sub-Saharan African migrant workers for arbitrary arrests, assuming they supported Gaddafi.
Trial in Libya
Moreno-Ocampo’s report to the Security Council suggested it was possible for Saif al-Islam and Senussi to be tried in Libya if the Libyans submitted a formal request. It would then be up to ICC judges to decide.
Another possibility, he said, was for the ICC to conduct its own trials inside Libya.
In a speech to the council, Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s deputy UN ambassador, did not make clear where he thought the
two men should be tried if arrested but promised “consultation and close co-operation” with the court.
Dabbashi also said Libya’s new rulers would make sure all those involved in crimes not covered by ICC jurisdiction
received “transparent investigations and fair and just trials in Libyan courts”.
Moreno-Ocampo’s probe of crimes committed during eight months of violence and war in Libya resulted in new investigations, including the possible use of rape by Gaddafi forces to persecute their enemies.
“While it is premature to draw conclusions on specific numbers, the information and evidence indicates at this stage
that hundreds of rapes occurred during the conflict,” he said.
Ocampo’s office was interviewing potential witnesses who “indicated that Muammar Gaddafi, al-Senussi and other high officials were discussing the use of rape to persecute those considered dissidents or rebels”.