4 March 2011

Libya: International Court to Investigate Gaddafi

New York — The International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to investigate Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime for crimes against humanity. The Libyan strongman is widely reported to have violently repressed peaceful protests even, as a top United Nations official called for global action to avert a humanitarian disaster in the country.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that preliminary examination of available information showed that an investigation was warranted after the Security Council last week asked him to look into the violent repression in which more than 1,000 people were reported to have been killed and many more injured as Gaddafi's loyalists opened fire on peaceful civilians demanding his ouster.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo had yesterday presented an overview of the alleged crimes committed at Libya since 15 February as well as information on the entities and persons who could be prosecuted at a news conference in The Hague. However, details of the presentation were scanty as at the time of filing this report.

After his investigation, he will present his case to ICC judges who will then decide whether or not to issue arrest warrants based on evidence.

Only one sitting head of state has so far been indicted by the ICC and given an arrest warrant - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was charged in March 2008 with war crimes and crimes against humanity in the strife-torn Darfur region.

The General Assembly yesterday suspended Libya from the UN Human Rights Council for "gross and systematic" human rights violations because of the violent repression.

Meanwhile, UN agencies on ground are gearing up to provide humanitarian aid for the more than 150,000 people who have already fled to the neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt and the many more who remain within Libya, with the World Food Programme (WFP) launching a $38.7 million emergency operation to provide food aid to 2.7 million people in the three countries.

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