ICC to rule on Kadhafi warrant as rebels near Tripoli

27th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The international criminal court will rule Monday on whether to issue an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi for crimes against humanity, as rebels and regime forces clashed on the road to Tripoli.

The decision by The Hague-based International Criminal Court comes on the 100th day of NATO's operations in Libya, with airstrikes having eased the siege of key rebel cities.

Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng is expected to read the decision of the three-judge bench at 1:00pm (1100 GMT) on the request by the court's prosecutor to have the Libyan strongman and two of his closest allies arrested.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo has asked for warrants for Kadhafi, 69, his son Seif al-Islam, 39, and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi, 62, for murder and persecution since the uprising started in February.

All three are charged over their roles in suppressing the revolt, in which civilians were murdered and persecuted by Libyan forces, particularly in Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata, the prosecutor said.

As the court proceedings have moved forward in The Hague, the fighting has raged between Kadhafi's troops and rebel forces near Tripoli.

Multiple rocket and heavy machine-gunfire was heard on the plains below the rebel enclave in the Nafusa Mountains, southwest of Tripoli on Sunday.

Rebel commanders said the fighting centered on Bir al-Ghanam, a strategic point on the road to the Libyan capital.

Meanwhile, the African Union panel on Libya meeting in the South African capital Pretoria said Kadhafi would not participate in peace talks, in what appeared to be a concession.

The panel "welcomes Colonel Kadhafi's acceptance of not being part of the negotiations process," AU peace and security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said, reading a prepared statement issued after four hours of talks.

A South African official, part of a team that travelled to Tripoli last month in a failed bid to launch peace talks, said that the latest developments indicate that Kadhafi is on his way out.

"This means he is finished," he said.

On Saturday, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), said that they had been in touch with loyalists over the possibility of Kadhafi submitting to internal exile.

Meanwhile three Libyan government ministers were in Tunisia for talks with international parties on efforts to halt the conflict in their country, Tunisia's official news agency TAP reported on Monday.

It said Health Minister Mohammed Hijazi and Social Affairs Minister Ibrahim Sherif arrived on Sunday in the tourist resort of Jerba, southern Tunisia, where the talks were underway.

They joined Foreign Minister Abdelati al-Obeidi who has been in Tunisia since last Wednesday and been "in negotiations with several foreign parties," TAP said without giving further details.

A senior official representing Libya's rebels said they were expecting to receive an offer from Kadhafi "very soon" that could end the four-month-old war.

Ghoga said intermediaries had indicated that a proposal from the Libyan strongman was in the works.

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.

In The Hague the ICC judges will decide whether to issue the arrest warrants, to decline the request or to ask for additional information before giving the nod.

On Sunday, the ICC prosecutor said the war crimes in Libya will not stop until Kadhafi is arrested.

"Crimes continue today in Libya. To stop the crimes and protect civilians in Libya, Kadhafi must be arrested," he said in a statement.

Three months after French jets flew their first missions over eastern Libya, NATO is still pounding targets across the country in what has become a war fought on multiple fronts, but with few clear victories for either side.

As "Operation Unified Protector" approaches its 5000 strike sortie, NATO is still hitting around 50 targets a day, mostly in or around Tripoli and Misrata in the west; Brega in the east; and the Nafusa Mountains to the south of the capital.

But the alliance's early success in pushing Kadhafi's forces outside striking distance of Benghazi and Misrata have not yet decisively tipped the balance in favour of the rebels.

An uneasy stalemate has taken hold, with rebel fighters told to hold their positions around Misrata and Ajdabiya, near Brega, despite the occasional rocket or mortar attack causing casualties.


© 2011 AFP

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