ICC to decide whether to issue Gaddafi arrest warrant

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[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] said Thursday it will decide [press release] whether it will issue arrest warrants for Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and two high-ranking officials on allegations of war crimes. The Pre-Trial chamber will deliver is decision on the application for warrants against Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Sanussi in a public hearing Monday in The Hague. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official websites] said his office has gathered “direct evidence” [CNN report] that the men committed crimes against humanity in connection with efforts to quell the three-month old Libyan revolt. Moreno-Ocampo said the evidence shows Gaddafi personally ordered attacks on civilian protestors and that his forces used live ammunition on crowds, attacked civilians in their homes, used heavy weapons against people in funeral processions and placed snipers to shoot those leaving mosques after prayer services. Libya has said it does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC and will ignore the warrants if issued. Moreno-Ocampo announced [JURIST report] last month that his office was pursuing arrest warrants against Gaddafi and the two others in his “inner circle.” He said al-Islam was acting as Gaddafi’s “defacto Prime Minister” and called al-Sanussi Gaddafi’s “right-hand man” and “executioner.” At that time, Moreno-Ocampo said his office was almost prepared for trial, having collected quality testimony from some who have fled Libya.

There have been numerous allegations of war crimes and human rights violations over the Libyan revolt which has persisted since February. Last week, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] decided to extend a mandate to an investigative panel instructing it to continue its investigation of human rights abuses in Libya, after it published a 92-page report [JURIST reports] earlier this month on its findings. The report said Libyan authorities have committed crimes against humanity such as acts constituting murder, imprisonment and other severe deprivations of physical liberties, torture, forced disappearances and rape “as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack.” Also this month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] expressed concern over the arrests of dozens of civilians by Libyan opposition authorities. HRW called on the National Transitional Council (NTC), the opposition ruling body in Libya with de facto control over eastern Libya, to provide civilian detainees with full due process rights, access to counsel and the ability to challenge their detention before independent judicial authorities.

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