ICC prosecutor: Gadhafi’s death may be war crime

Laura Rozen
The Envoy

The murky circumstances surrounding Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's death in October may amount to a war crime, the top international war crimes prosecutor said Thursday.

"I think the way in which Mr. Gadhafi was killed creates suspicions of ... war crimes," the International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told reporters Thursday, Reuters reported..

"I think that's a very important issue," he continued. "We are raising this concern to the national authorities and they are preparing a plan to have a comprehensive strategy to investigate all these crimes."

The announcement marked a stark turnaround in Moreno-Ocampo's formerly close relations with Libya's interim rulers, the National Transition Council. Moreno-Ocampo had previously stated as fact anti-Gadhafi forces's claims to have captured Gadhafi's son and former heir-apparent Saif al-Islam Gadhafi back in August. Saif later convincingly disproved those claims by appearing at the Tripoli hotel where most foreign journalists were working--thereby forcing the ICC prosecutor to acknowledge that his confirmation of Saif's capture had been based on rebels' mistaken claims.

Saif al-Islam was later captured alive by anti-Gadhafi forces last month in Libya's southern desert en route to Niger, where one of his brothers has taken refuge. Other Gadhafi children have decamped for Algeria.

Libya's interim rulers have resisted pressure to extradite Saif al-Islam to the Hague to stand trial on war crimes charges, saying they prefer to conduct the trial at home in Libya.

The international war crimes court issued arrest warrants in March for Moammar Gadhafi, Seif al-Islam and Libya's former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity.

The National Transition Council said in October  that it would investigate the circumstances under which Moammar Gadhafi and his son Mo'tassim died after their initial capture near Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte in October. But no findings from that inquiry have yet surfaced.

"Mobile phone footage showed both alive after their capture," the Reuters report said. "The former Libyan leader was seen being mocked, beaten and abused before he died, in what NTC officials said was crossfire."

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