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ICC Set to Rule on Gadhafi Warrant


The International Criminal Court is set to decide if it will issue an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for alleged crimes against humanity.

A panel of ICC judges is weighing the idea of issuing arrest warrants for Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi. The court prosecutor accuses them of heading forces that attacked civilians in their homes and at public gatherings during the four-month uprising.

These are charges that many people in the east of the country say they can attest to. They welcome the idea of Gadhafi being branded a criminal, while denying the move could complicate efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict.

The rebel's Interior Minister Ahmad Darrat argues a warrant would increase pressure on the Libyan leader, perhaps forcing him to leave for a country that does not recognize the international court's authority.

For Ali Abdsalaam, he wants the man he calls a tyrant brought to justice. A truck driver in his fifties, he fled with his family from Misrata in April for the relative safety of Benghazi. Now he and his two wives are trying to provide for their 10 children, the youngest born a week after the uprising began.

One of the daughters, 12-year-old Fariel, recalls those weeks before the family left, which saw some of the worst fighting of the government's siege of her city.

She says she was "scared of everything, especially the shelling -- there was a lot of shelling in Misrata."

Ali Abdsalaam says the intensity of the attacks on their residential neighborhood was such that he moved his family to the north of the city, where they stayed with relatives.

One day, they took a chance and made their way through the mortar and rocket strikes to the harbor. They were among the lucky, finding passage on a ship ferrying people out of the city.

For Abdsalaam's daughter Fatima, the shelling was not what bothered her most. At 18, she was old enough to follow the news and hear the stories of others in her neighborhood.

She says her biggest fear was that government troops would break into her home, kidnap the men and rape the women.

Rape was something rarely discussed in Libya before the conflict. But in recent months scores of women have come forward with claims of sexual attacks by government troops, leading human rights groups to believe Gadhafi forces are using rape as a weapon of war.

For the Abdsalaam family, those fears are gone for now. Camped out in a small apartment - stacks of mattresses line the walls of the main room - they try to imagine their future out from under the control of Gadhafi.

But the misery of life back in their home town is never far away. Earlier in the day the family was watching an opposition television report on the victims of recent shelling in Misrata. The image of a little girl appeared on the screen. It was their three-year-old cousin, being treated for a fractured skull.

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