The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) called on countries today to “do all they can” to prevent Muammar al-Qadhafi’s son from leaving Libya amid reports that a group of mercenaries are attempting to facilitate his escape.
“We are calling upon States to do all they can to disrupt any such operation,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement to the Security Council in New York.
In June the ICC issued arrest warrants for the now deceased Muammar al-Qadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Qadhafi and the country’s intelligence chief, Abdullah Al Sanousi, for their roles in attacks against protesters and rebels during the pro-democracy movement that rose up against the regime this year, UN News Service reports.
Moreno-Ocampo stated last week that his office is in indirect contact with Mr. al-Islam on his possible surrender to face charges for crimes against humanity, and that his office was exploring the possibility of intercepting any plane within the airspace of a State party to make an arrest in the event of an attempted escape.
“It is up to Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi and Abdullah Al Sanousi to decide if they will surrender themselves, remain in hiding, or try to escape to another country,” Moreno-Ocampo said in his statement. “It is up to the UN Security Council and States to ensure that they face justice for the crimes for which they are charged.”
The Prosecutor stressed his office continues to collect evidence against al-Islam and Al Sanousi in preparation for their eventual trial.
In addition to this investigation, Moreno-Ocampo said the ICC is also investigating gender crimes in the country, particularly the use of rape as a weapon by Qadhafi forces during the eight-month conflict.
Although the ICC investigation does not yet indicate who may be responsible for gender crimes, Moreno-Ocampo said evidence had been collected showing that “commanders gave orders to commit rape in the Western Mountains area,” and added that his office is screening “possible witnesses that indicated that Muammar al-Qadhafi, Al Sanousi and other high officials discussed the use of rape to persecute those considered dissidents or rebels.”
During a press briefing this afternoon, Moreno-Ocampo said the ICC was mindful of the delicate nature of these investigations and had adopted a strategy which seeks to limit the exposure of victims as this could trigger retaliation and honour-based violence.
In his statement, Moreno-Ocampo also said that the ICC will independently and impartially look into allegations of crimes committed by NATO as well as forces related to the National Transitional Council (NTC), which include the alleged detention of civilians and killing of detained combatants.
Moreno-Ocampo’s statement follows an unannounced visit by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser to Tripoli, where they hailed the bravery of the Libyan people in throwing off tyranny and urged them to remain united in rebuilding the country.