War crimes prosecutor announces Kadhafi probe

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Moamer Kadhafi, his sons and key aides will be probed over allegations they have perpetrated crimes against humanity during Libya's uprising, the International Criminal Court's prosecutor said Thursday.

"The office of the prosecutor decided to open an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed in Libya," Luis Moreno-Ocampo said, citing information that "peaceful demonstrators were attacked by security forces".

"We have identified some individuals with de facto or formal authority, who had authority over the security forces who allegedly committed the crimes. They are Moamer Kadhafi, his inner circle, including some of this sons," the prosecutor told journalists in The Hague.

Moreno-Ocampo said he expected to ask ICC judges for arrest warrants within "a few months".

He also "put on notice" a group of key Kadhafi aides, who "should pay attention to crimes committed by their people because if they are not preventing, stopping or punishing these crimes, they will be responsible".

The included the foreign minister, the head of the regime's security forces, the head of the veteran Libyan leader's personal security, and the head of the Libyan External Security Organisation.

"We would like this opportunity to put them on notice. If forces under their command and control commit crimes they will be criminally responsible," the Argentinian prosecutor said.

The list also included the regime's spokesperson and its national security advisor. Ocampo did not name names.

More than 100,000 people have fled Libya to escape a vicious crackdown by Kadhafi loyalists that has left at least 1,000 dead since a rebellion started on February 15, according to UN estimates -- at least 6,000 according to one Libyan human rights group.

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

"In the coming weeks the (prosecutor's) office will investigate who are most responsible for the most serious incidents, for the most serious crimes committed in Libya," said Moreno-Ocampo.

"The office will present its evidence to the judges and the judges will decide on whether or not to issue arrest warrants."

In the course of its investigation, the office of the prosecutor would liaise with the UN, the African Union, the Arab League, individual states and Interpol.

Moreno-Ocampo stressed that opposition groups could also be prosecuted if they committed crimes under the court's jurisdiction.

"There will be no impunity in Libya."

The ICC 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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