Libya probe to progress rapidly: war crimes prosecutor

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The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Tuesday the probe over the crackdown in Libya should move forward "very quickly" in order to determine if war crimes have been committed.

"When we opened this investigation there were crimes against humanity, an attack against civilians in which we did not see any armed conflict. That is what we were investigating," Luis Moreno-Ocampo told reporters in Madrid.

"At the moment, there is an armed conflict. Everything is changing at the speed of light. We must also move very quickly in our investigation.

"We warn very clearly that any party which commits war crimes can be the target of an investigation. There are two parties and there is an armed conflict. For us the question is to know if there is a war crime or not."

Moreno-Ocampo announced on March 3 that Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, three of his sons and his top diplomat are among eight people targeted by an ICC probe into crimes against humanity arising from a bloody crackdown on the popular revolt.

The probe follows a referral by the United Nations Security Council, which said that "the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity".

The revolt against Kadhafi's regime entered its third week on Tuesday as Libya's air force stepped up air strikes and heavy shelling was heard on the front lines.

The ICC, based in The Hague, is the world's only independent, permanent tribunal with the jurisdiction to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

© 2011 AFP

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