Arrest warrants sought for Libya’s suspected war criminals

International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday that he will seek three arrest warrants for crimes against humanity in Libya, which has seen thousands dead and tens of thousands fled since the conflict began.

Moreno-Ocampo said the murder and persecution of civilians was still being carried out by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and that more cases would follow.

He told the 15-nation council that “thousands” have died in Libya since the start of the uprising on February 15.

The ICC is also investigating the deaths of dozens of sub-Saharan Africans in the rebel capital of Benghazi by an “angry mob” who believed they were Gaddafi mercenaries.

Diplomats have said Gaddafi is likely to be on the first list of warrants, but Moreno-Ocampo did not name the initial targets.

Forewarned is forearmed
He did say though that the Libyan government had started preparing to counter protests weeks before they started — warned by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

“As early as January, mercenaries were being hired and brought into Libya,” he told the council.

He said he would seek warrants in coming weeks saying he had witness accounts, videos and picture evidence to back his case.

“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 Libya since February 15, he said.

Moreno-Ocampo said that any arrests would need “serious planning and preparation” which he said the Security Council has to start now.

“Widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population have been and continue to be committed in Libya, including murder and persecution as crimes against humanity,” Moreno-Ocampo said.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency’s Maness Ghanem said on Wednesday that more than 41 600 people had fled the fighting in Libya in the past four weeks through the Dehiba border post in southern Tunisia.

“Some 2 800 Libyans crossed the border post at Dehiba, located 4km from the border, and 2 400 at Ras Jedir on Tuesday, May 3. About 950 Libyans are staying at a camp in Dehiba constructed by the Emirati government, and another 1 100 at a UN camp in Remada, 60km away, Ghanem said by phone from Tataouine in southern Tunisia.

Around 4 650 refugees of different nationalities are at camps in Ras Jedir, 150km northeast of Dehiba, Ghanem said.

Most Libyan refugees, according to Ghanem, were welcomed by the local Tunisian community or have rented houses in the area.

“We have joined our efforts with the Tunisian authorities, civil society and volunteers to find solutions on housing and to provide food and sanitary aid,” Ghanem said. — Sapa-AFP

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