War crimes prosecutor seeks Kadhafi arrest warrant

16th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

An international war crimes court's chief prosecutor has sought an arrest warrant for Moamer Kadhafi, accusing the Libyan leader of having ordered his forces to gun down civilians in their homes, at funerals and outside mosques.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo also asked for arrest warrants for Kadhafi's second-oldest son Seif al-Islam and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Senussi -- for crimes against humanity in Libya.

"Today, the office of the prosecutor requested the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants," Moreno-Ocampo said at a press conference in The Hague where the ICC, the world's first permanent war crimes court, is based.

"Therein it will show that Kadhafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed civilians," he said.

"He (Kadhafi) ordered attacks on Libyan civilians in their homes and in public spaces," the prosecutor continued, adding that "he shot at demonstrators using live ammunition, using heavy weaponry against ... funeral processions and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after prayers."

Kadhafi's forces prepared lists with names of alleged dissidents, who were "being arrested, put into prisons in Tripoli, tortured and made to disappear."

"The crimes are crimes against humanity," said the prosecutor, whose office prepared a 74-page file to back his case.

Kadhafi used family and his inner circle to enforce his rule -- including his son Seif al-Islam, 38, which Moreno-Ocampo dubbed his "de-facto prime minister".

Al-Islam has often been named as his father's successor and has appeared on public television several times since the protests erupted.

Intelligence chief and brother-in-law Abdullah Al Senussi was Kadhafi's "right-hand man" who ensured his orders were carried out.

"The evidence showed that Kadhafi relied on his inner circle to implement a systematic policy of surpressing any challenge to his authority," the prosecutor told journalists.

"Moamer Kadhafi committed a crime with the goal of preserving his authority, his absolute authority," Moreno-Ocampo said.

A panel of ICC judges will now have to decide whether to accept or reject the prosecutor's application, based on his case file.

Moreno-Ocampo announced on March 3, when the revolt against Kadhafi's regime was less than three weeks old, that he was opening an investigation into human rights abuses in Libya.

His investigation initially targeted eight people, including Kadhafi and three of his sons.

Thousands of people have been killed in the Libyan violence and around 750,000 people forced to flee, according to UN figures.

Monday's application was the second time the ICC prosecutor has asked for a head of state to be arrested. In July 2008 he applied for an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, which was granted but has not been executed.

More than 1,200 documents including video and pictures were reviewed in the investigation against Kadhafi and more than 50 interviews conducted or individuals screened to be interviewed.

The probe took staff of the prosecutor's office on 30 missions to 11 states, but its spokeswoman Florence Olara said last week Libya itself was not visited because it did not want to endanger witnesses there.

Moreno-Ocampo said another charge of war crimes, which included rapes and attacks since the end of February, would be the subject of a separate investigation.

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

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