ICC Set to Rule on Gadhafi Warrant

Posted June 27th, 2011 at 7:20 am (UTC-5)
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Judges at the International Criminal Court are set to decide whether to issue arrest warrants for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and two of his most trusted lieutenants on war crimes charges.

The court in The Hague is expected to announce the judges' decision Monday.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has asked for arrest warrants for Mr. Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi. Moreno-Ocampo says Mr. Gadhafi and his government carried out attacks against demonstrators, and ordered snipers to fire on civilians leaving mosques during the crackdown against rebels seeking Mr. Gadhafi's ouster.

Meanwhile, witnesses in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, say they have heard two loud explosions and could see smoke rising from the area near Mr. Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound Monday.

Rebels in Libya's western mountains said Sunday they have advanced and are battling government forces in a strategic town 80 kilometers southwest of Tripoli.

Opposition commanders said fighting on the outskirts of Bair al-Ghanam follows weeks of intense clashes in the Nafusa Mountains that have pushed government troops steadily back toward the capital.

The town is significant because it is only 30 kilometers from Zawiya, a key western gateway to Tripoli and home to a crucial oil refinery. Opposition forces seized Zawiya in March before pro-Gadhafi fighters retook the city.

Tunisia's state news agency said Monday three Libyan government ministers, including Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi are holding talks with “several foreign parties” on the Tunisian island of Djerba. It did not give further details about the meetings.

African Union leaders meeting in Pretoria said Sunday that Mr. Gadhafi has agreed to stay out of negotiations to end Libya's more than four-month-old civil war. The AU said in a statement that it “welcomes Mr. Gadhafi's acceptance of not being part of the negotiation process.”

There was no immediate confirmation from the Libyan government of what could be a significant concession.

Late Sunday, Mr. Gadhafi's spokesman remained defiant, insisting the Libyan leader “is leading the country. He will not leave. He will not step down.” Mr. Gadhafi has run Libya for 42 years, but is being pressured to cede power by rebels who rose up against his rule and by a NATO-led bombing campaign.