The International Criminal Court prosecutor at the Hague on Monday requested arrest warrants for Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi, his son Seif Islam Kadafi and his military intelligence chief, accusing them of crimes against humanity.
Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced at the ICC that Kadafi, his son and Abdullah Sanoussi had commanded, planned and carried out attacks on civilians since the Feb. 15 start of demonstrations against Kadafi’s regime in Libya. Kadafi’s forces used violence against protesters, and the demonstrations quickly turned into an uprising.
“The evidence shows that Moammar Kadafi, personally, ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians. His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in the public space, shot demonstrators with live ammunition, used heavy weaponry against participants in funeral processions and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after the prayers,” Moreno-Ocampo said.
“The evidence shows that such persecution is still ongoing, as I speak today, in the areas under Kadafi control. Kadafi’s forces prepare lists with names of alleged dissidents. They are being arrested, put into prisons in Tripoli, tortured and made to disappear.”
Judges at the ICC will now have to evaluate the evidence submitted by Moreno-Ocampo and decide whether to issue the arrest warrants. But the announcement upped the ante in the standoff between Libya and NATO states now conducting an aerial campaign to protect civilians. The pursuit of an arrest warrant against Kadafi and his son Seif, whom the West once hoped might reform the regime, could make it virtually impossible to make a graceful exit from the stage. Libya, like the United States, is not an ICC member.
The ICC prosecutor was unsparing in his language, calling Kadafi’s actions “crimes against humanity.”
The prosecutor said his office had gathered “direct evidence” against Kadafi and said his son Seif Islam had acted as his father’s “de facto prime minister.” He branded Sanoussi, Kadafi’s brother-in-law, as the Libyan leader’s “right-hand man” and said that Sanoussi “personally commanded some attacks.”
“The office documented how the three held meetings to plan and direct the operations,” the prosecutor said. “The case is now before the judges. They can accept the request, reject it or ask for more evidence.”
The ICC prosecutor was authorized by the U.N. Security Council 2 1/2 months ago to investigate Kadafi. On Sunday, Moreno-Ocampo said his team had been in touch with senior Libyan officials in the last week who were willing to provide information.
Libyan officials have insisted that they are fighting to defend their country against Al Qaeda extremists and criminals and are now the victims of a colonial-style plot against them.
In rebel-held Misurata, a besieged coastal area in western Libya, people welcomed the news. “I believe it’s the first step on the true path to justice and freedom,” said Abdsalam Abdullah, a member of the local governing council.
A doctor in Misurata, Aiman Abu Shama, was joyful. “Kadafi has no power,” the doctor said. “His end is coming soon.”
Parker was recently on assignment in Libya.