Fri, Nov 04, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Qaddafi’s son may try to flee Libya: ICC

ON THE RUN:Saif al-Islam Qaddafi may be heading for Niger, which risks upsetting pro-Qaddafi Tuareg nomads if it hands him over to the ICC as it has promised to do

Reuters, UNITED NATIONS

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is still receiving information that Muammar Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam may try to flee Libya with the help of mercenaries, the court’s chief prosecutor said on Wednesday.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo also said he was investigating whether the former Libyan leader and his spy chief ordered mass rapes as they battled an insurgency earlier this year.

Muammar Qaddafi died shortly after his capture last month by the former National Transition Council (NTC) rebels, now the government forces, but Ocampo told the UN Security Council his investigations would not be confined to Qaddafi’s forces.

“There are allegations of crimes committed by NATO forces, allegations of crimes committed by NTC-related forces ... as well as allegations of additional crimes committed by pro-Qaddafi forces,” he said in a speech to the council. “These allegations will be examined impartially and independently by the [prosecution].”

NATO has denied allegations that it deliberately targeted civilians during its seven-month campaign of air strikes against Qaddafi’s forces, which ended on Monday. The NTC has vowed to investigate alleged executions and abuse of suspected Qaddafi supporters.

Human rights groups have said that NTC forces have singled out sub-Saharan African migrant workers for arbitrary arrest and detention because of assumptions that they supported Qaddafi.

Libya’s interim leadership has said it would like to try Saif al-Islam and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi in Libya. Both men have been indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity and other war crimes.

“We are also receiving information that a group of mercenaries may be endeavoring to facilitate his [Saif al-Islam’s] escape from Libya,” Ocampo said. “We are calling upon states to do all they can to disrupt any such operation.”

Saif al-Islam may be heading for Niger, which risks upsetting pro-Qaddafi Tuareg nomads if it hands him over to the ICC as it has promised to do if he shows up there.

Ocampo said people linked to Saif al-Islam had approached his office with questions “about the legal conditions attaching to his potential surrender to the court.”

Libya’s Deputy UN Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, in a speech to the council, did not make clear where he thought the two men should be tried if arrested, but promised “consultation and close cooperation” with the court.

Dabbashi also said Libya’s new rulers would make sure all those involved in crimes not covered by ICC jurisdiction received “transparent investigations, and fair and just trials in Libyan courts.”

Ocampo’s probe of crimes committed during eight months of violence and war in Libya resulted in new investigations, including the possible use of rape by Qaddafi’s side to persecute their enemies.

“While it is premature to draw conclusions on specific numbers, the information and evidence indicates at this stage that hundreds of rapes occurred during the conflict,” he said.

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