x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

International court begins investigation of Libyan violence

'Individuals to be named' for a full-scale probe of alleged crimes committed in Libya by chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

THE HAGUE // The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court will today name individuals to be targeted in a full-scale probe of alleged crimes committed in Libya, his office announced.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo will announce "the opening of an investigation in Libya" at a news conference in The Hague and present "preliminary information as to the entities and persons who could be prosecuted", it said.

The prosecutor will "put them on notice to avoid future crimes" and would also present an overview of the alleged crimes committed in Libya since an anti-government rebellion began on February 15, the statement noted.

Hundreds of people have been killed in a crackdown in the uprising and tens of thousands are fleeing the country, causing a humanitarian emergency.

On Monday, Mr Ocampo said he was conducting a preliminary assessment, after the UN Security Council's referral of the Libyan crisis to the ICC, to establish whether there were reasonable grounds for a full probe.

The council had said "the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity", which fall under the ICC's mandate to prosecute.

"Following a preliminary examination of available information, the prosecutor has reached the conclusion that an investigation is warranted," the prosecution statement said.

Mr Ocampo on Monday cited information that forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Qaddafi were attacking civilians.

"If people were in a square and were attacked by tanks, planes and soldiers, and if people were killed in a systematic way, this was a crime against humanity," he said at the time, promising to move "swiftly and impartially".

The office of the prosecutor was liaising with the UN, the African Union, the Arab League and individual states in the investigation.

"Additionally, the prosecutor will also request information from other sources including from Interpol who will provide assistance," the statement added.