Fri, Mar 04, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Court to probe Qaddafi, aides

HUGO TO THE RESCUE?Qaddafi’s friend Hugo Chavez has reportedly proposed a plan to send representatives from several countries to Libya to resolve the crisis

Agencies, THE HAGUE, Netherlands; BREGA and AJDABIYA, LIBYA, and

A rebel holds his ears as a bomb launched by a Libyan Air Force jet loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi explodes in the desert near Brega, Libya, on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and key aides will be probed over allegations they committed crimes against humanity while fending off the uprising in Libya, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said yesterday.

“We have identified some individuals with de facto or formal authority, who have authority over the security forces,” that have clamped down on a rebellion that started on Feb. 15, Luis Moreno-Ocampo told journalists in The Hague. “They are Muammar Qaddafi, his inner circle, including some of this sons.”

Ocampo also listed individuals including the veteran Libyan leader’s head of personal security and the head of the external security forces.

The announcement came on the same day Libyan jets pounded the strategic town of Brega, a day after fighting there between rebels and loyalist fighters killed 12, as Qaddafi warned the West to stay out of the fray.

As thousands fled the violence into neighboring countries, a Dutch military official said three Dutch marines were taken prisoner over the weekend by armed men during an operation to evacuate civilians from Libya.

And as the world clamored for action to stop Qaddafi using warplanes against his own people and to protect refugees scrambling to escape, the US and its allies cooled talk of imposing a no-fly zone over his country.

Early yesterday, the ragtag opposition army in the Mediterranean coastal town of Brega, 200km southwest of the main eastern city of Benghazi, readied anti-aircraft guns and manned checkpoints amid reports of fresh air strikes by Qaddafi’s forces, Agence France-Presse reporters said.

“Qaddafi’s forces are preparing another attack for today” so more forces from the nearby town of Ajdabiya have moved to Brega to join the fighting, Mahmoud al-Fakhri said as he manned a checkpoint at the exit of Ajdabiya.

Fattah al-Moghrabi, director of supplies for Brega hospital, said that warplanes had early yesterday “dropped a bomb in the area between the oil company and the residential area” of Brega.

Pro-Qaddafi forces with heavy weaponry attacked the oil town of Brega at dawn on Wednesday in their biggest counteroffensive yet since the uprising against Qaddafi’s 41-year rule in eastern Libya. It illustrated the deep difficulties the Libyan leader’s armed forces — an array of militiamen, mercenaries and military units — have had in rolling back the uprising.

Despite air strikes throughout the day, the rebels managed to push the regime’s forces out of the town, sparking celebrations — which were themselves targeted by Qaddafi’s fighter jets.

On the western edge of Ajdabiya yesterday, another group was readying an anti-aircraft battery, loading it with ammunition.

“We are ready and we’re happy to support,” said Driss Abheh AdulWahad as he supervised the loading of shells into the guns.

He said 12 rebels were killed in the fighting on Wednesday.

Rebel command in the opposition headquarters of Benghazi, Libya’s main eastern city, said that between 10 and 15 were killed.

The patchwork Libyan opposition controls swathes of eastern and western Libya, including Benghazi and some oil installations. Qaddafi remains firmly in control of Tripoli.

More than 100,000 people have already left Libya to escape a vicious crackdown by Qaddafi loyalists, which has left at least 1,000 dead, according to conservative UN estimates.

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