27th June, 2011
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.
The court had accused him of crimes against humanity and of ordering attacks on civilians after an uprising against him began in mid-February.
The Hague-based court also issued warrants for two of Col Gaddafiâ€™s top aides – his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the conflict.
ICC presiding judge Sanji Monageng said there were â€œreasonable grounds to believeâ€ that Col Gaddafi and his son were â€œcriminally responsible as indirect co-perpetratorsâ€ for the persecution and murder of civilians in Libya.
The warrants had been requested by chief ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in May, who said the three men bore responsibility for â€œwidespread and systematic attacksâ€ on civilians.
Mr Moreno-Ocampo said the court had evidence that Col Gaddafi had â€œpersonally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians and was behind the arrest and torture of his political opponents.
The Libyan authorities have previously said they do not recognise the court and were not concerned by the threat of a warrant.
On Sunday, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the court was overly preoccupied with pursuing African leaders and had â€œno legitimacy whatsoeverâ€.
The arrest warrant was welcomed by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who said it further demonstrated â€œwhy Gaddafi has lost all legitimacy and why he should go immediatelyâ€.
Mr Hague called on people within the Libyan regime to abandon Gaddafi and said those responsible for â€œatrocitiesâ€ must be held to account.