The International Criminal Court prosecutor said he would investigate the violence in Libya after the UN Security Council referred the case to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal.
The Security Council on Saturday imposed sanctions on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family, and referred Libya’s crackdown on anti-government demonstrators to the ICC.
“Following a preliminary examination of available information, the prosecutor has reached the conclusion that an investigation is warranted,” the prosecutor said in a statement, Reuters reports.
On Thursday, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will present an overview of alleged crimes committed in Libya since February 15 and of “preliminary information as to the entities and persons who could be prosecuted and put them on notice to avoid future crimes”.
Once he has gathered sufficient evidence, the next step would be for the prosecutor to present his case to ICC judges, who will need to decide whether or not to issue arrest warrants.
The ICC is the world’s first permanent war crimes court with power to investigate crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. It has opened investigations in five African states.
Libya was one of a handful of states worldwide that refused to sign up to the ICC’s founding Rome statute, but because the case was referred by the Security Council, its nationals can be prosecuted as the ICC now has jurisdiction.
Moreno-Ocampo has said previously “information suggests that forces loyal to President Muammar Gaddafi are attacking civilians in Libya” adding that this could constitute crimes against humanity.
The prosecutor’s office is liaising with the U.N., the African Union, the Arab League and states in its investigation. It will also request information from Interpol.
It has already been in contact with Libyan officials and army staff to understand command structures and how the Libyan military system worked.