Int'l Criminal Court Seeks Gaddafi Arrest Warrant On War-Crimes Charges (5/17)     Print

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has formally requested arrest warrants for Moammar Gaddafi and two of his relatives for crimes against humanity.

His action seems aimed primarily at putting more pressure on other members of the Libyan leader’s entourage to defect before they, too, are charged with war crimes.

Predictably, Libyan leaders dismissed the arrest warrant request as “irrelevant.” Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Khaim denounced the ICC as a “baby of the European Union designed to work against African politicians and leaders.” Libya is one of the African countries – along with Zimbabwe and Sudan – that does not recognize the ICC.

If the arrest warrants are accorded by pre-trial judges on the count, the accused would be subject to arrest in any country that chose to respect the warrant, including even non-signatory nations such as the U.S.

The unusually swift and pro-active move by the ICC partially reflects new interest in the ICC by the U.S., which is supporting its European allies in trying to end the bloody rule of Gaddafi. Historically, the U.S. has scorned the ICC since its founding a decade ago, but the Obama administration has shifted policy to closer alignment with its European allies on the court. Even though Washington has not ratified the treaty instituting the court, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has repeatedly invoked its powers as a threat aimed at convincing Gaddafi to cease hostilities against rebels in his country.

The prosecutor found “strong evidence” that Gaddafi planned and direct bloody attacks against civilians, organized recruitment of mercenaries for murdering civilians and held meetings that led to deadly attacks on civilians.

Thalia Bayle is an editorial assistant at European Affairs