ICC Prosecutor to Investigate All Sides in Libya

Posted November 2nd, 2011 at 7:55 pm (UTC-5)
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The International Criminal Court says it is investigating alleged war crimes committed during this year's fighting in Libya by troops loyal to former leader Moammar Gadhafi as well as NATO and revolutionary forces.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo Wednesday told the United Nations Security Council his office is examining whether Gadhafi and his spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, ordered mass rapes to persecute those considered dissidents or rebels.

He said allegations of crimes perpetrated by the opposition National Transitional Council included detention of civilians suspected of being mercenaries and the killing of detained combatants. He did not provide details of possible crimes by NATO forces.

Rights groups have said NTC fighters singled out sub-Saharan African migrant workers for arbitrary arrest due to assumptions they supported Gadhafi. Western allies, meanwhile, have denied allegations they deliberately targeted civilians during NATO's seven-month bombing campaign against pro-Gadhafi forces, which ended Monday.

The ICC prosecutor also said his office has been informed Libya's new leaders will look into the circumstances surrounding Gadhafi's death. Libyan Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi told the council Tripoli would ensure all those involved in crimes not covered by ICC jurisdiction receive “transparent investigations and fair and just trials in Libyan courts.”

Moreno-Ocampo also said people linked to Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam, had approached his office with questions about the legal conditions that would be attached to his potential surrender.

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and al-Senussi are the two surviving individuals from Libya's former government with war crimes warrants against them. Their exact whereabouts are unknown.

Earlier Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used a visit to Libya to urge the country's new leaders to secure weapons stockpiled by the former government.

Mr. Ban said it is particularly important to secure stocks of shoulder-fired missiles and chemical and biological weapons. Some of those arsenals were left unguarded during the chaotic outcome of Libya's popular uprising this year.

The U.N. Security Council warned in a resolution Monday of the risk that terrorists and other armed groups in the region could gain access to the Gadhafi government's weapons.

Mr. Ban, visiting Libya for the first time since the uprising began in March, told NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil the United Nations will support the Libyan people in their transition to democracy.

He offered U.N. help to Libya in preparing for its first free elections, in drafting a new constitution and in safeguarding human rights and improving public security.