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Court launches Gaddafi crimes probe

The International Criminal Court is to investigate Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and other officials for possible crimes against humanity.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Colonel Gaddafi's security forces are alleged to have attacked "peaceful demonstrators" in several towns and cities across Libya since February 15.

He identified Col Gaddafi, several commanders and regime officials as having formal or de facto command over the forces that may have committed crimes.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo vowed there would be "no impunity in Libya".

Armed with unusual authority from the UN Security Council, Mr Moreno-Ocampo acted with unprecedented speed to launch an investigation, partly to warn Libyan officials against any continued slaughter of civilians.

He said the court was using the opportunity "to put them on notice: if forces under their command commit crimes, they could be criminally responsible".

He also warned that leaders of the Libyan opposition, who have seized weapons from the Libyan military, could be investigated if allegations were raised against them.

"No one has the authority to attack and massacre civilians," he said.

Col Gaddafi has denied using violence against demonstrators, whom he described as agents of al Qaida. International media have been unable to witness the worst of the reported incidents.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said it could take several months before he presents his case to judges and requests arrest warrants.

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