A potentially consequential side-effect of Libya’s repression of civilian protesters is that the events there have been referred by the U.N. Security Council to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of Colonel Gaddafi as a war criminal, for ordering the murder of civilians and other crimes against humanity.
The ICC has started a formal investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Libya that will focus on the role of the country’s leader, Col. Gaddafi and several of his sons and members of his inner circle, the New York Times reported March 3.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor, told the newspaper that judging by the information he had received, many more insiders from the Libyan government had defected than was publicly known. “The system appears to be breaking down,” he said.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said he hoped that at this stage his actions could have a deterrent effect. He said he was putting senior officials in Libya — “individuals with formal or de facto authority” — on notice that they could be held responsible if forces under their command committed crimes.
Issuing an arrest warrant would probably take several months, but the prosecutor says “how an arrest order is implemented is a different challenge that will have to be addressed in due course. Right now, we must investigate the crimes, and reach those responsible.”
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It would still be a largely hypothetical possibility that Gaddafi might someday end up at The Hague for trial and possible conviction as a war criminal.