22nd August, 2011
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court contacted Libyan rebels Monday to urge them to hand over the son of Moammar Gadhafi, detained during their dramatic thrust into Tripoli, and not take the law into their own hands, the Associated Press reported.
â€œIt is time for justice, not revenge,â€ Luis Moreno-Ocampo said, after receiving confirmation that opposition forces had detained Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, his fatherâ€™s one-time heir apparent who has been indicted on crimes against humanity charges.
Moreno-Ocampo charged Moammar Gadhafi, his son and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi in May with involvement in a campaign to attack civilians in their homes, shoot at demonstrators with live ammunition, shell funeral processions and deploy snipers to kill people leaving mosques.
Issuing arrest warrants for the suspects in June, Presiding Judge Sanji Monageng said evidence showed Gadhafi and his inner circle plotted a â€œstate policyâ€ to stamp out dissent â€œby any means â€” including by the use of lethal force.â€
Rebels have previously pledged to hand over indicted suspects they capture, but also have said they would like to try them in Libya.
Moreno-Ocampo stressed that he wants to put Seif Gadhafi on trial in The Hague.
â€œMoammar, Seif and al-Sanoussi are three persons indicted by the ICC, they should be turned over to the ICC,â€ the prosecutor said. He said that a new Libyan government would have to decide how to handle cases involving lower-ranked officials.
Seif Gadhafiâ€™s detention came as rebels poured into the Libyan capital Tripoli with little resistance. A rebel leader said the unit in charge of protecting Gadhafi and Tripoli had surrendered and joined the revolt, allowing the opposition force to move in freely
â€œWe hope that Moammar Gadhafi is also arrested and also faces justice,â€ Moreno-Ocampo said. â€œThere is no more impunity for these crimes.â€
Human Rights Watch called on the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) and the remaining pockets of Gadhafi support to protect civilians and those still backing Gadhafi in what appeared to be the last throes of his 42-year rule.
â€œNTC forces should not carry out reprisals against those who fought for or supported the Gadhafi government,â€ said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
Moreno-Ocampo says he has evidence of Gadhafi issuing orders and of his son organizing the recruitment of mercenaries to fight for the regime.
The United Nations Security Council called in February for a probe into atrocities against opponents of Gadhafiâ€™s regime. Moreno-Ocampo required U.N. approval because Libya does not recognize the courtâ€™s jurisdiction and has not ratified its founding treaty.
After arrest warrants were issued, Libyan Justice Minister Mohammed al-Qamudi dismissed the court as a front for NATO.
â€œItâ€™s merely a political tool for exerting pressure and political blackmail against sovereign countries,â€ he said.
Moammar Gadhafi is only the second head of state indicted by the court after Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir, who has been charged with genocide for allegedly masterminding widespread attacks on civilians in the Darfur region. Al-Bashir has refused to accept the courtâ€™s jurisdiction and remains at large.