The International Criminal Court has opened its official investigation into possible crimes against humanity being committed in Libya. The prosecutor has warned those in power there-including Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, his sons and his inner circle-that they could face prosecution if they commit crimes or fail to prevent them.
Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s message was clear: There will be no impunity in Libya.
"We are witnessing a new situation where the world is united," Ocampo said. "No one can attack civilians, no one has authority to attack and massacre civilians."
The specific allegations the prosecutor is investigating are attacks by security forces on peaceful demonstrators, what he says could amount to a crime against humanity.
Moreno-Ocampo named incidents his office has been investigating since Sunday: including a 15th of February attack in Benghazi and one in the Libyan capital Tripoli on the 20th. And he named the names of people who have authority over those allegedly committing the crimes, people who could one day be called to account before the court. Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo:
"They are Moammar Gadhafi , his inner circle, including some of his sons, who had de facto authority. But also people with formal authority that should pay attention to the crimes committed by their people, because if they’re not preventing, punishing, stopping these crimes, they could be responsible according to the law," Ocampo explained.
Those people referred to by Ocampo include the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the head of military intelligence, and the head of Colonel Gadhafi’s personal security. The prosecutor also warned opposition leaders that they, too, will be held accountable if they commit crimes against civilians.
The prosecutor hailed the swiftness - a mere two weeks - with which the world has responded to the Libyan crisis as the dawn of a new era-from investigations by the African Union and the Arab League to the U.N. Security Council’s unanimous referral of the case to the court and the speed of his own investigation.
The world is together on this, he said, and is using its entire arsenal to stop the crimes while they’re being committed. Today, he said, he’s put those responsible on notice. But it’s expected to take another few months before he completes his investigation and judges here decide whether or not to issue arrest warrants.