First Published: 2011-05-18


ICC prosecutor: Libya faces possible charges


Moreno-Ocampo warns whole Libyan regime it could face investigation, prosecution if it tries to cover up crimes committed against its people.


Middle East Online


THE HAGUE - The International Criminal Court's prosecutor warned the whole Libyan regime Wednesday it could face investigation and prosecution if it tries to cover up crimes committed against its people.

"(Libyan) diplomats working in Libya cannot be part of the cover-up of these crimes -- we want to be clear on that," Luis Moreno-Ocampo said at a press conference in The Hague, where the world court is based.

"Failure to do so would result in an investigation and prosecution," he added.

His warning comes as his office on Wednesday sent a letter to Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi calling on him and "other Libyan authorities to refrain from being involved in such a cover-up."

The office "considers that part of the criminal plan implemented in Libya includes the cover-up of the crimes" committed to quash a popular uprising against Colonel Moamer Gathafi that erupted in February.

Asked how the regime's officials covered up crimes, Moreno-Ocampo said: "Even Mr Gathafi himself said 'where's the bodies', because what they do is that their doctors are prohibited to register dead people in hospitals... the bodies are hidden."

"If they shoot at or attack a mosque sometimes they destroy the mosque to terminate any links connected to the crime," he said.

The Argentinian prosecutor on Monday asked the court's judges to issue arrest warrants against Gathafi, his second-oldest son Seif al-Islam and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Senussi -- for crimes against humanity.

Libya's government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim dismissed the ICC's bid, saying the court has no jurisdiction over Tripoli while denying accusations that the regime ordered the killing of civilians or hired mercenaries against them.

However, Moreno-Ocampo said Gathafi's regime is obliged to cooperate after the United Nations Security Council in February referred the Libyan crisis to the ICC prosecutor for investigation into crimes against humanity.

"Libya is a member of the United Nations and as such the UN Security Council resolutions are binding to Libya. Libya has the obligation to implement the arrest warrant," he said.

The prosecutor said his office continued to investigate crimes within Libya including information that numerous woman have been arrested and gang-raped.

His office was looking at whether Gathafi had ordered these rapes himself.

One of the leads was whether there was a link between the rapes and a huge consignment of Viagra drugs, which Moreno-Ocampo said were bought in "massive numbers to use."

His office was also looking at the killing of sub-Saharan Africans by rebel forces who accused "any black person" of being a mercenary fighting for Gathafi.

"After that there were allegations in Benghazi that black people were killed, just because they were being black," he said in reference to the rebels' capital.

Thousands of people have died in violent clashes pitting regime opponents and Gathafi loyalists, and forced some 750,000 to flee, according to data from the ICC and the UN.


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