International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] on Wednesday announced [press release, PDF] that an investigation has uncovered enough evidence to allow him to pursue warrants for forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi [BBC profile] for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Moreno-Ocampo said he has found evidence that Libya began hiring mercenaries as early as January in anticipation of protests after unrest began in the Middle East [JURIST news archive]. According to the chief prosecutor, those mercenaries have been used against protesters, resulting in the deaths of thousands. Regarding war crimes, the chief prosecutor claims to have uncovered evidence of the use of "cluster munitions, multiple rocket launchers and mortars, and other forms of heavy weaponry, in crowded urban areas, in particular Misrata. There are also reports of forces blocking humanitarian supplies ... the use of civilians as human shields and the torture of prisoners of war or civilians."
The evidence collected establishes reasonable grounds to believe that widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population have been and continue to be committed in Libya, including murder and persecution as crimes against humanity. Additionally and since the end of February, there has been an armed conflict in Libya. In this context, there is also relevant information on the alleged commission of war crimes.Moreno-Ocampo will present his evidence to the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC [official website] and request warrants be issued for three individuals. Those individuals were not named in the statement.
In March, the ICC announced it would launch an investigation [JURIST report] into the recent violence in Libya. The ICC was given jurisdiction over the current situation in Libya by UN Security Council [official website] Resolution 1970 [text]. Also in March, the UN Security Council voted unanimously [press release] to impose sanctions [JURIST report] against Gaddafi, marking the first unanimous referral to the ICC in UN history. Resolution 1970 also received support from Libya's delegation itself, which renounced Gaddafi [Reuters report]. Subsequently, the UN General Assembly [official website] voted to suspend Libya [JURIST report] from the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] in response to the violent suppression of peaceful protesters by forces loyal to Gaddafi. According to a statement issued by the court, the ICC will not grant immunity [JURIST report] to any person perpetrating crimes against humanity in Libya.