The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, announced Monday that his office will seek arrest warrants on war crimes charges for Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, whom Ocampo described as the “de facto prime minister,” and Director of Military Intelligence Abdullah Al-Senussi, Gaddafi’s “right hand man, the executioner” on war crimes charges.
According to Ocampo, Gaddafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians in their homes and in public spaces. His forces shot demonstrators with live ammunition, used heavy weaponry to attack funeral processions, and placed snipers at mosques to target individuals exiting prayers. And “revolutionary committees,” commanded by Gaddafi’s son, created lists of anti-government participants who were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and then disappeared. Ocampo added that these crimes are ongoing in Gaddafi-controlled areas.
Ocampo identified the three leaders as the “most” responsible for the murder and persecution of civilians, but noted that the choice to omit others from the list does not mean they are innocent. Libyan authorities have the power to conduct their own investigations and to take further actions against other individuals.
Ocampo would not give much detail on the evidence his office has collected, but noted that it was “strong.” He said that there was evidence that each of the three named individuals committed crimes, and that the three held meetings on how to plan and direct operations.
The Office of the Prosecutor has handed over a 74-page dossier to a three-judge panel of the court. The panel will now review the strength of the evidence and determine whether to accept his request for arrest warrants, reject it, or ask for further investigations. Ocampo said that he expects the decision will come in a matter of weeks.
If the panel decides to issue warrants, Libyan authorities will then have a legal duty to implement them. Ocampo said that he both hopes and thinks that Libya will do so, as facts show that Libyans, whom Gaddafi has ruled for so long through fear, are now beginning to lose that fear.
In the meantime, the Office of the Prosecutor will conduct further investigations into alleged rapes, killings of sub-Saharan Africans considered to be mercenaries, and other war crimes. It will liaise with an inquiry being conducted by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which is to issue a detailed report at the beginning of June.