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ICC issues Gaddafi arrest warrant 0

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday issued an arrest warrant for Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi, for crimes against humanity committed against opponents of his regime since mid-February, as rebels and regime forces clashed on the road to Tripoli.

The decision by The Hague-based ICC comes on the 100th day of NATO’s operations in Libya, with airstrikes having eased the siege of key rebel cities.

“The chamber hereby issues a warrant of arrest against Muammar Gaddafi,” Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng said during a hearing at the Hague-based court.

She also issued arrest warrants for Colonel Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam, 39, and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi, 62, for murder and persecution since the uprising began in February.

All three are charged over their roles in suppressing the revolt, in which civilians were murdered and persecuted by Libyan forces, particularly in Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata, the prosecutor said.

Saif al-Islam – the second of  Gaddafi’s nine children – has had a far more prominent role in the Libyan political scene than his brothers or sisters. Well-educated and a fluent English speaker, He was previously viewed by the West as the reform-minded face of the Gaddafi regime.

Since the Libyan revolt broke out, Brig Gen Sanussi has been accused of ordering the killing of protesters and recruiting foreign mercenaries fighting for Col Gaddafi.

Some media reports initially suggested he was planning to defect, joining the former foreign minister Moussa Koussa, but the claims were soon denied.

The UN Security Council referred the Libyan conflict to the ICC on February 26, and Ocampo launched his investigation five days later.

It’s unclear what practical effect the arrest warrant will have on the three men. Gaddafi has made no public indication he is willing to give up power, and the warrant against Bashir seems to have little chance of being enforced: Bashir has travelled to Qatar, Chad and Egypt without incident.

As the court proceedings have moved forward in The Hague, the fighting has raged between government troops and rebel forces near Tripoli.

Rebel commanders said the fighting centered on Bir al-Ghanam, a strategic point on the road to the Libyan capital.

“We are on the southern and western outskirts of Bir al-Ghanam,” Juma Ibrahim, a rebel spokesman in the nearby town of Zintan, told Reuters by telephone.

“There were battles there most of yesterday (Sunday). Some of our fighters were martyred and they (government forces) also suffered casualties and we captured equipment and vehicles. It’s quiet there today and the rebels are still in their positions,” he said.

Meanwhile, the African Union panel on Libya meeting in the South African capital Pretoria said Gaddafi would not participate in peace talks, in what appeared to be a concession.

The panel “welcomes Colonel Gaddafi’s acceptance of not being part of the negotiations process,” AU peace and security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said, reading a prepared statement issued after four hours of talks.

By Staff writer – Afronline

Sources: ICC, BBC Africa, All Africa, Al Arabiya news

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