Thursday, May 19, 2011

Will Gaddafi be prosecuted by the ICC?

Will Gaddafi end up in the dock in The Hague? Yes, if it's up to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to decide. "We are almost ready for trial." said Luis Moreno Ocampo at a press conference, announcing that the court is seeking arrest warrants for the Libyan leader and two others.

The ICC's chief prosecutor says Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and the Libyan military intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi are responsible for committing crimes against humanity by persecuting and killing protesters during an uprising which began in mid-February. "The office gathered direct evidence about orders issued by Muammar Gaddafi himself, direct evidence about Saif al-Islam organising the recruitment of mercenaries and direct evidence of the participation of al-Senussi in the attacks against demonstrators."
The chief prosecutor added that his office also documented how the three held meetings "to plan the operations" and Gaddafi used his "absolute authority to commit crimes in Libya." Ocampo is confident he has enough evidence."We have such strong evidence, such direct evidence that we're almost ready for trial," he says.

Ocampo's investigators undertook 30 missions to 11 countries. There they collected over 1,200 documents, including videos and pictures and interviewed more than 50 people.
It is the fastest investigation by Ocampo's office in The Hague so far. The UN Security Council sent him to investigate ongoing atrocities against civilians in late February. The prosecutor was quick to act, convinced he can help prevent further crimes.
He already told the council two weeks ago "crimes against humanity have been and continue to be committed in Libya, attacking unarmed civilians including killings and persecutions in many cities across Libya."

Ocampo said he will continue his investigations on "different forms of persecution against civilians, as well as acts of rape and the unlawful arrest, mistreatment and killings of sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries." He added that war crimes charges might also be laid.
In the meantime, it is up to a panel of ICC judges to decide whether or not to issue the warrants. And if they do, Ocampo faces an even bigger struggle: actually getting the Libyans to The Hague. The ICC does not have a police force and Ocampo has already called on states "to prepare for arrests should judges decide to issue arrest warrants. Now is the time to start planning on how to implement possible arrest warrants," he said.
This is not the first time an international war crimes prosecutor has probed Colonel Gaddafi's actions. His name was often mentioned in Freetown, in The Hague and in the courtrooms of the Special Court for Sierra Leone SCSL. With the Sierra Leone tribunal in The Hague wrapping up the case against the former Liberian president Charles Taylor, critics maintain others should also be held accountable for war crimes in West Africa.

The Libyan leader trained Taylor and Sierra Leonean rebels at his World Revolutionary Headquarters camps in the 1980s and allegedly funded the warmongers in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Gaddafi has not been indicted by the court. Its first prosecutor, David Crane, recently hinted that the main sponsors of the tribunal would have cut funding if he had gone after the Libyan leader at the time.
If Ocampo's prosecution bid proves successful Gaddafi might meet Taylor again, but this time in the Scheveningen detention unit.

Day Opening - May 19

purple moon