Gaddafi death 'may be war crime'
Published 16/12/2011 | 00:02
The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) has said there are "serious suspicions" that the death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was a war crime.
Luis Moreno Ocampo told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council that he sent a letter to the head of the National Transitional Council asking what the new government's plans are to investigate alleged war crimes by all parties, including the rebels.
The uprising against Gaddafi's 42-year rule erupted in February, quickly escalated into civil war, and ended in October with Gaddafi's capture and death in unclear circumstances.
Witness accounts and video taken of the deposed dictator after his capture by rebel fighters show that he was beaten and abused by his captors, and there were strong indications he was killed in custody.
"The death of Muammar Gaddafi is one of the issues to be clarified - what happened - because there are serious suspicions that it was a war crime," Mr Moreno Ocampo said.
He said what the ICC does on Gaddafi's death and other war crimes will depend on what Libya's interim government does because under the Rome statute that established the war crimes tribunal, the ICC only steps in if national authorities are unwilling or unable to act.
Mr Moreno Ocampo said his office is working closely with Libyan authorities not only on Gaddafi's case but on those of his son, Saif al-Islam, and former intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senoussi, who were captured and face ICC charges.
Libya's new leaders have said they will try al-Islam at home even though they have yet to set up a strong court system. The ICC wants to be certain the government will be capable of putting on a fair trial for al-Islam and al-Senoussi.
Mr Moreno Ocampo said that the judges at the ICC have asked the National Transitional Council to inform them of their plans before January 10. He said if the government challenges the ICC's jurisdiction, it will be up to the judges to decide where the two accused will be tried.
In the meantime, he said, his office is continuing its investigation. "We are sure there were massive rapes, quite sure," Mr Moreno Ocampo said. "We're trying to define who ordered them."