ICC probes gender crimes in Libya, calls for efforts to prevent escape of Gaddafi’s son

November 3rd, 2011 - 5:22 pm ICT by BNO News  

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS (BNO NEWS) — The International Criminal Court (ICC) has called on countries for maximum efforts in order to prevent Muammar Gaddafi’s son from leaving Libya as reports indicate a group of mercenaries is attempting to facilitate his escape.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement to the United Nations (UN) Security Council in New York that the court is calling upon States to do all they can to disrupt any operation which would help Gaddafi’s son escape.

In June, the ICC issued arrest warrants for the now deceased Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and the country’s intelligence chief, Abdullah Al Sanousi, for their roles in attacks against protesters and rebels during the pro-democracy movement which rose up against the regime this year.

Last week, Moreno-Ocampo’s office had indirect contact with al-Islam on his possible surrender to face charges for crimes against humanity. The prosecutor stated that his office is exploring the possibility of intercepting any plane within the airspace of a State party to make an arrest in the event of an attempted escape.

“It is up to Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al Sanousi to decide if they will surrender themselves, remain in hiding, or try to escape to another country,” Moreno-Ocampo said. “It is up to the UN Security Council and States to ensure that they face justice for the crimes for which they are charged.”

Meanwhile, the ICC has continued to collect evidence against al-Islam and Al Sanousi in preparation for their eventual trial. Its investigation into gender crimes during the conflict, in particular the use of rape as a weapon by Gaddafi forces during the eight-month conflict, also continues.

Moreno-Ocampo said evidence has been collected showing that “commanders gave orders to commit rape in the Western Mountains area,” although the ICC investigation has not yet shown who may be responsible for such gender crimes.

The prosecutor’s office, meanwhile, is screening “possible witnesses that indicated that Muammar Gaddafi, Al Sanousi and other high officials discussed the use of rape to persecute those considered dissidents or rebels,” Moreno-Ocampo said.

However, the ICC prosecutor also noted that such crimes are of the delicate nature. The investigations, therefore, have adopted a strategy which seeks to limit the exposure of victims as this could trigger retaliation and honor-based violence.

In addition, the ICC said it will ‘independently and impartially’ look into allegations of crimes committed by NATO as well as forces loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC), which includes the alleged detention of civilians and killing of detained combatants.

Earlier on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasserun made an announced visit to Tripoli, Libya, where they hailed the bravery of the Libyan people in throwing off tyranny and urged them to remain united in rebuilding the country.

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