- International Criminal Court chief has ‘serious suspicions’ over death of leader
- Footage before Gaddafi’s death showed him being beaten and abused by captors
Questions: ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has written to the National Transitional Council over Gaddafi’s death
The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has said there are ‘serious suspicions’ that the death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was a war crime.
Luis Moreno Ocampo said 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.
Mr Moreno Ocampo said.: ‘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.’
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.
Footage of the moments before Gaddafi’s death showed the blood-covered leader being allegedly sodomised before he was killed
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.’
The UN Security Council referred incidents stemming from the Libyan uprising to the ICC and Mr Moreno Ocampo said he promised the council that he would present his strategy for the continuing investigation of possible war crimes in his next report in May.
Macabre: The slain leader’s body was then put on display in a storage freezer in Misrata after his death
After al-Islam’s arrest, Mr Moreno Ocampo flew to the Libyan capital late last month and met government officials.
He said the officials offered him the opportunity to meet al-Islam. But he said he declined because Gaddafi’s son would have needed to have a lawyer present and he had not asked to see the prosecutor.
Mr Moreno Ocampo said the Libyan authorities told him it was ‘very important’ to prosecute al-Islam themselves for two reasons – he is ‘the face of the old regime’ and ‘they would like to show they can do better than with Muammar’ and conduct a proper trial.
‘If they can convince the (ICC) judges,’ Mr Moreno Ocampo said, ‘we don’t need to go and fight for a case.’