ICC Issues Arrest Warrant For Qaddafi On War Crimes Charges
Last updated (GMT/UTC): 27.06.2011 14:44
The International Criminal Court (ICC) today issued an arrest warrant for embattled Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Qaddafi is accused of ordering attacks on civilians and other crimes against humanity as part of a brutal crackdown on a rebel-led uprising against his rule, which began in February.
Judge Sanji Monageng, speaking in The Hague, Netherlands, announced the ICC was seeking the arrest of Qaddafi, along with his son Saif al-Islam, and his intelligence chief.
"Muammar Qaddafi, in coordination with his inner circle, including Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, conceived and orchestrated a plan to deter and quell, by all means, the civilian demonstrations against the regime," Monageng said.
Libya's intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, is charged with persecuting and murdering members of the opposition.
The unrest in Libya came just weeks after similar uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia led to the overthrow of both countries' leaders.
'He's A War Criminal'
After today's announcement, celebrations broke out in Benghazi, the rebels' eastern stronghold.
Rebel council spokesman Jalal al-Galal told Reuters that "people feel vindicated" by the decision.
"The world has confirmed what we have been saying all along," he said. "He's a war criminal and he should be tried for it."
Saleh Mohammed, who lives in Misurata -- a rebel-held city in the west that has been heavily shelled in the conflict -- told Reuters on June 26 that Libyans feel Qaddafi's arrest would be a key step in ending the violence.
"I hope he will be arrested at this moment, and the order declared to arrest him," Mohammed said. "As long as he stays, he is doing more crime and more of killing every day. With his rockets there is no safe place. It's true his forces left the city, but his rocket targeted us. There is no target -- only people in all areas and everywhere."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague today welcomed the move by the ICC, saying the warrants "further demonstrate why Qaddafi has lost all legitimacy and why he should go immediately."
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, meanwhile, praised the decision as one that "reinforces the reason for NATO's mission" in Libya.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the North African country in recent months, the bloodiest of all the antigovernment revolts currently shaking the Arab world. Fighting continues despite a United Nations-mandated NATO air campaign meant to protect civilians from attacks by Qaddafi's forces.
compiled from agency reports
Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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