The Guardian is reporting that Luis Moreno Ocampo is ready to request the issuing of warrants against Moammar Gadhafi and at least two others from his regime over the crimes committed against Libyan civilians. Ocampo has told the UN that he will be asking at the court in The Hague for the warrants.
“It is indeed a characteristic of the situation in Libya that massive crimes are reportedly committed upon instruction of a few persons who control the organisations that execute the orders,” Moreno-Ocampo said. He added that the arrests were a manner of urgency.
“Justice is on course today; however, if those who order the crimes are not stopped and arrested murder, persecution, systematic arrests, torture, killings, enforced disappearances and attacks against unarmed civilians will continue unabated” the prosecutor said.
In the course of a two-month preliminary investigation, Moreno-Ocampo’s investigators found widespread evidence of crimes against humanity.
“Concerning the manner and nature of the crimes, the shooting at peaceful protesters was systematic, following the same modus operandi in multiple locations and executed through security forces. The persecution appears to be also systematic and implemented in different cities.War crimes are apparently committed as a matter of policy,” the report said. Moreno-Ocampo said thousands of people had died since the beginning of the conflict.
As well as the use of live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, the ICC investigation found evidence of a range of abuses including torture, systematic rape, the use of cluster munitions and other heavy weaponry in urban areas, the use of civilians as human shields and the blocking of humanitarian supplies.
“Civilians in Tripoli and other areas are reportedly subject to different forms of persecution because of their suspected association with the uprising,” the report stated. “Systematic arrests, torture, killings, deportations, enforced disappearances and destruction of mosqueshave been reported in Tripoli, Al Zawiyah, Zintan and the area of the Nafousa mountains. The victims are allegedly civilians who participated in demonstrations or talked to international media, activists, journalists, as well as citizens of Egypt and Tunisia that were arrested and expelled en masse because of their perceived association with the popular uprising.
To this list I add that Zintan has been undergoing heavy shelling. This has been going on for the same length of time as the shelling of Misrata. Dozens have been killed in Zintan, but many of the civilian population fled to the mountains and nearby caves.
The investigation has not been completed and the other side also faces investigation over the following accusations:
The ICC prosecutor’s office is also looking into several reports that anti-government crowds attacked and killed “dozens” of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, who were suspected of being pro-Gaddafi mercenaries.
“A number of Sub-Saharan Africans were allegedly arrested by the new authorities in Benghazi and it is unclear whether they were innocent immigrant workers or prisoners of war,” the report said.
The reason for the confusion is that from the beginning, even before the protests began Gadhafi had hire mercenaries from a number of other countries and had them in place, including in Benghazi. This explains why the people in the early days would have arrested anyone thought to be suspicious, and held them as prisoners of war. However, if there have been crimes, then those responsible also need to be punished.
What is very significant about the report and the request that will be made for arrests is how this affects the NATO alliance action in Libya.
The report was commissioned by the security council on 26 February when it referred the case to the ICC. The investigation is highly significant politically as Nato went to war in Libya on “humanitarian grounds”, on the strength of security souncil resolution 1970 authorising “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. If the court approves the arrest warrants it will help insulate the alliance against international criticism of his prolonged campaign in Libya.
This could also isolate the positions of China, Russia, India, Venezuela, South Africa and a number of other nations that have been critical of the NATO action.