The International Criminal Court (ICC) Monday issued arrest warrants against Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi and two of his high-ranking officials. The Pre-Trial Chamber I issued warrantsfor Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the “de facto Prime Minister,” and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Sanussi, the head of intelligence, for alleged crimes against the people of Libya to quell the revolt that began last February. Based on the materials provided to the Chamber by the Prosecutor’s office, the Chamber found reasonable grounds that between February 15 and February 28, 2011, Gaddafi not only conspired with the other two to perpetrate crimes against humanity against the people of Libya but took actions to cover-up the crimes. The Chamber noted:
There is also information which indicates that there was a campaign to cover up the alleged crimes through the following acts: (i) targeting journalists to prevent them from reporting events, and punishing them for having done so; (ii) repeatedly blocking satellite transmission of channels such as Al-Jazeera and Al-Hurra and disrupting internet and telecommunications services; (iii) confiscating laptops, cameras, mobile phones SD and SIM cards from persons stopped at checkpoints; (iv) removing dead bodies by the Security Forces including from the hospitals” and throwing of at least one body into a rubbish truck in Tripoli; (v) searching for wounded protesters in the Tripoli hospital; and (vi) leveling to the ground a Mosque which bore bullet holes as a result of an attack by the Security Forces in Al- Zawiyah; and (vii) removing evidence of mass graves in Al-Zawiyah.”
Libya is not a signatory of the Rome Statute granting the ICC its jurisdiction, and Gaddafi has refused to recognize its authority. Still, the Chamber noted that, “the official position of an individual, whether he or she is a national of a State party or of a State which is not party to the Statute, has no effect on the Court’s jurisdiction.”
Last week, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo presented the materials to Pre-Trial Chamber. He said his office had gathered “direct evidence” that shows Gaddafi personally ordered attacks on civilian protestors and that his forces used live ammunition on crowds, attacked civilians in their homes, used heavy weapons against people in funeral processions and placed snipers to shoot those leaving mosques after prayer services.
Moreno-Ocampo announced last month that his office was pursuing arrest warrants against Gaddafi and the two others in his “inner circle.” He said al-Islam was acting as Gaddafi’s “de facto Prime Minister” and called al-Sanussi Gaddafi’s “right-hand man” and “executioner.” At that time, Moreno-Ocampo said his office was almost prepared for trial, having collected quality testimony from some who have fled Libya. There have been numerous allegations of war crimes and human rights violations over the Libyan revolt which has persisted since February.
Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decided to extend a mandate to an investigative panel instructing it to continue its investigation of human rights abuses in Libya, after it published a 92-page report. The report claims Libyan authorities have committed crimes against humanity such as acts constituting murder, imprisonment and other severe deprivations of physical liberties, torture, forced disappearances and rape “as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack.”