Kadhafi arrest warrant sought after truce offer

16th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The International Criminal Court's prosecution applied Monday for a warrant for Moamer Kadhafi's arrest for crimes against humanity, a day after the Libyan strongman's regime offered a truce in return for a halt to NATO-led air strikes.

NATO-led aircraft meanwhile launched fresh raids on an outlying suburb of the capital Tripoli, destroying a radar base, the state news agency JANA and residents said.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said warrants were also sought for one of Kadhafi's sons, Seif al-Islam, and intelligence head Abdullah Senussi for crimes against humanity.

"Today, the office of the prosecutor requested the International Criminal Court arrest warrants," Moreno-Ocampo told a news conference in The Hague, where the court is based.

The Argentine prosecutor said there was evidence "that Moamer Kadhafi personally ordered attacks on innocent Libyan civilians".

A panel of ICC judges will now decide whether to accept or reject the prosecutor's application.

Protests against Kadhafi's four-decade rule began on February 15 and Moreno-Ocampo said thousands of people had now been killed in the violence and around 750,000 people forced to flee.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague called on the international community to "fully support" the ICC.

"I welcome this announcement. The human rights situation in western Libya and the behaviour of the Kadhafi regime remains of grave concern," Hague said.

Amnesty International welcomed the move by the ICC prosecutor but said that Syria too should be referred to court for investigation of its iron-fisted crackdown on peaceful protests.

"The request for arrest warrants is a step forward for international justice and accountability in the region," said Michael Bochenek, the London-based watchdog's director of law and policy.

"However, the international community that came together in such unprecedented agreement to refer Libya to the International Criminal Court, cannot allow justice to appear selective.

"By any standard, what is happening in Syria is equal to if not worse than the situation in Libya when the Security Council referred that country to the ICC."

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the days of Kadhafi's regime were "numbered" and that some Libyan officials were looking for a way for their leader to go into exile.

"Messages have been arriving from the regime's restricted circle," Frattini said in a Channel 5 television interview.

"Certain (members) have spoken under cover and are beginning to say that Kadhafi is looking for an honourable way out," he added.

Russia said it would hold talks on Tuesday with envoys of the Libyan leader before having a separate meeting with rebel representatives at a later date.

"We have agreed Moscow meetings with representatives of both Tripoli and Benghazi," the ITAR-TASS news agency quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.

Russia has refused to accept the rebels as a legitimate power in Libya and still has formal ties with the Kadhafi regime.

On Sunday, Kadhafi's prime minister Baghdadi Mahmudi offered a truce to UN special envoy, Abdul-Ilah al-Khatib, in return for an immediate NATO ceasefire.

Mahmudi said after meeting Khatib that Libya wants "an immediate ceasefire to coincide with a stop to the NATO bombardment and the acceptance of international observers," JANA reported.

Britain's chief of the defence staff, General David Richards, told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that more military action was needed against the Libyan strongman.

"The vice is closing on Kadhafi, but we need to increase the pressure further through more intense military action," he said.

On Monday, NATO carried out strikes at a radar station in an outlying suburb of Tripoli, while state news agency JANA quoted a military source as saying that "civilian and military sites" had been targeted in Tajura east of the capital causing "human and material losses."

In Cairo, the 22-member Arab League asked the satellite operator Arabsat -- which it owns -- to stop transmitting Libyan state-owned television channels.

The rebellion against Kadhafi has claimed thousands of lives while seeing much of eastern Libya fall into the hands of insurgents who have vowed to march on Tripoli and topple him.

In the main eastern city Benghazi, rebel spokesman Jalal al-Gallal touted the uprising's achievements.

"These three months have been very long," Gallal told AFP. "But we managed to secure the eastern areas, free Misrata and the mountainous regions in the west."

He added: "Kadhafi's isolation is irreversible. And most importantly, we achieved freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of movement. Kadhafi's biggest mistake was failing to understand how important these were for us."

© 2011 AFP

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