ICC has "no jurisdiction" over Kadhafi: lawyers
The International Criminal Court did not have the jurisdiction to prosecute Moamer Kadhafi, a South African law firm claiming to represent the Libyan leader said late Friday.
"The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya never signed or ratified the international treaty establishing the International Criminal Court," and therefore the treaty and the court did not apply to Libya, said a statement issued by Langa Attorneys in Johannesburg and Rome and sent to AFP in The Hague, where the court is based.
"It is clear that the ICC has no jurisdiction on the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and that the immunity of the Head of State, provided by international customary law, applies to Colonel Kadhafi," it said.
ICC judges on Monday issued arrest warrants for Kadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam, and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi, for atrocities committed in a bloody uprising that began mid-February.
The arrest warrants followed a request by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo last month, leading from his investigation which opened five days after a referral by the UN Security Council on February 26, in a resolution, asking him to probe the Libyan situation.
The lawyers' statement said: "By issuing the warrants of arrest the ICC has complacently misled the world about its penchant to take the law into its own hands as the ICC has no jurisdiction over Libya."
It also listed other objections including the short space of time it took Moreno-Ocampo to open the Libyan probe as opposed to investigations in other countries.
But, the lawyers conceded: "Now that the ICC has issued its illegitimate warrants, we expect NATO to stop their bombings and to also abandon its threat to kill Colonel Kadhafi and allow the ICC disputed process to take course."
It called on NATO to seize the campaign to "guarantee the safety of the legitimate Libyan leader Colonel Kadhafi and other representatives and officials... to exercise their right to defend themselves at a fair tribunal."
© 2011 AFP