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ICC to Seek Arrests for Crimes Against Humanity in Libya

  • Larry Freund

International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo speaks at a news conference in The Hague, March 3, 2011 (file photo)

International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo speaks at a news conference in The Hague, March 3, 2011 (file photo)

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced Wednesday that the ICC will seek the arrest of three individuals for crimes against humanity in Libya.

International Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the U.N. Security Council that he will present a case on Libyan war crimes to the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court in the next few weeks. He said he will ask the judges to issue arrest warrants against three individuals who appear to bear the greatest responsibility for crimes against humanity committed in Libya during the current turmoil there. He did not give their names.

"In all the incidents to be presented to the judges, the victims who were shot at by the security forces were unarmed civilians and there is no evidence of any attack against the security forces," said Moreno-Ocampo. "To prove the case, the office has collected different types of evidence. There are at least two eyewitnesses for each incident, documents and, in many cases, corroboration of details by pictures or videos."

The international prosecutor told the Security Council that civilians in Tripoli and other parts of Libya under Moammar Gadhafi's control are reportedly subject to persecution. He said systematic arrests, torture, killings and forced disappearances have been reported in Tripoli and elsewhere. The victims, Moreno-Ocampo added, are civilians who participated in demonstrations, are considered disloyal to the regime, or who talked to international media, activists and journalists.

Arresting those who ordered the commission of crimes, the prosecutor said, will send a serious message to other potential perpetrators in Libya and elsewhere that the international community will not condone such crimes.

The U.N. Security Council referred the situation in Libya to the prosecutor of the ICC in a resolution on Libya it approved unanimously in February.

The U.S. ambassador the the United Nations, Susan Rice, said Moreno-Ocampo's reports on Libyan crimes against humanity underscore U.S. statements that Moammar Gadhafi has lost all legitimacy to lead Libya.

"The specter of ICC prosecution is serious and imminent, and should warn those around Gadhafi about the perils of continuing to tie their fate to his," said Rice. "The prosecutor has also indicated that further cases may be opened, as would be appropriate against individuals involved in further crimes that might be committed in the days ahead."

Rice added that through his brutal repression, Gadhafi has demonstrated time and again that he is not interested in a Libya that honors his peoples’ hopes and rights.