Arrest Kadhafi says world criminal court judges
War crimes court judges Monday issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi and two of his closest allies for crimes against humanity committed against opponents of his regime.
"The chamber hereby issue a warrant of arrest against Moamer Kadhafi," Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng said as she read a decision by the bench of the Hague-based International Criminal Court.
"There are reasonable grounds to believe that... Moamer Kadhafi, in coordination with his inner circle conceived and orchestrated a plan to deter and quell the civilian population demonstrating against the regime and those perceived to be dissidents," she added.
The judges also issued arrest warrants for Kadhafi's son Seif al-Islam, 39, and which Judge Monageng described as the Libyan leader's "de-facto prime minister" and head of Libyan intelligence Abdullah al-Senussi, 62, for murder and persecution since mid-February when the uprising started.
The court's decision came on the 100th day of NATO's operations in Libya, with airstrikes having eased the siege of key rebel cities.
However Kadhafi is still in power and fears remain of a full-fledged civil war.
"Moamer Kadhafi retains absolute, undisputed control over the Libyan apparatus of power including the security forces," said Judge Monageng on Monday.
ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo had asked for warrants for Kadhafi, Al-Islam, and Senussi for murder and persecution committed since 15 February.
Judge Monageng said the arrest warrants for Kadhafi and Al-Islam were for crimes against humanity committed "over the Libyan territory" and particularly in Benghazi, Misrata and Tripoli from 15 February until at least the end of that month.
The warrant for Senussi, was issued for crimes committed in Benghazi from 15 to 20 February by armed forces under his control.
"Inhuman acts were inflicted on the civilian population, severely depriving population of its fundamental rights," the judge said.
Thousands have so far died in the fighting, while around 650,000 others fled the country. Another 243,000 Libyans have been displaced internally, according to UN figures.
Moreno-Ocampo said Monday again stressed he wanted Kadhafi and his inner circle arrested.
"To prevent them covering up ongoing crimes and committing new crimes, they should be arrested. This is the only way to protect civilians in Libya," Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement.
Britain hailed the International Criminal Court's decision to issue an arrest warrant for Moamer Kadhafi on Monday, saying members of the Libyan regime should now abandon him.
"I welcome the ICC judges' decision to issue arrest warrants for Colonel Muammar Kadhafi, Seif al Islam al Kadhafi and Abdullah al-Senussi," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.
On the ground in Libya, rebel commanders said the fighting centered on Bir al-Ghanam, a strategic point on the road to the Libyan capital.
Moreno-Ocampo's investigation follows a referral by the United Nations Security Council on the Libyan conflict on February 26. The prosecutor's office launched its investigation five days later. On May 16, Moreno-Ocampo asked the court for the warrants.
It will be the second time the ICC's chief prosecutor has a country's head of state in his sights, after an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was issued in March 2009. That warrant has yet to be executed as the ICC does not have a police force and are dependent on states for arrest.
Established in 2002, the ICC is the world's first permanent, treaty-based court set up to try those accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide if the accused's own country cannot or will not do so.
© 2011 AFP