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Prosecutors put final touches to Libya indictment
THE HAGUE (AP) — Senior officials in the embattled Libyan government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi have come forward to offer evidence to the International Criminal Court in its investigation of widespread murder and persecution, prosecutors said Sunday.
“During the last week, the Office of the Prosecutor received several calls from high-level officials in Gadhafi’s regime willing to provide information,” prosecutors said in a statement. They did not elaborate on the nature of the information or name the officials.
Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he will file a 74-page document with nine annexes outlining allegations that the Libyan regime systematically has attacked civilians since launching a brutal crackdown on anti-government rebels in February.
The document will ask judges to issue arrest warrants for the three Libyan leaders considered most responsible for crimes against humanity.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Thursday said he expected the ICC to ask for Col. Gadhafi’s arrest, which would complicate any suggestion of the Libyan leader accepting exile as a way to end the conflict in his country.
Judges will study the evidence presented Monday before deciding whether to issue arrest warrants for the suspects, a process likely to take weeks.
The prosecutor said in a statement Sunday his investigation already is so advanced he is “almost ready for trial.”
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo paid tribute to his office for pulling together the case in just 2½ months — unusually fast for an international war crimes tribunal.
“The Office collected good and solid evidence to identify who bears the greatest responsibility; no political responsibilities but rather individual criminal responsibilities for crimes committed in Libya,” he said.
Investigators from the Hague-based court have conducted 30 missions to 11 countries and have interviewed more than 50 witnesses, including “key insiders,” as well as reviewing videos, photographs and other evidence, prosecutors said Friday.
Because the U.N. Security Council has ordered Mr. Moreno-Ocampo to investigate atrocities in Libya, every U.N. member state will be obliged to arrest Col. Gadhafi if judges issue an arrest warrant for him.
The court, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, has no police force of its own and relies on countries to execute warrants.
However, in the past, some nations have been reluctant to act on such warrants. The court’s judges have reported three countries to the Security Council for allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to visit without arresting him. Mr. al-Bashir has been indicted for crimes including genocide in Darfur in the only other International Criminal Court case ordered by the Security Council.
While prosecutors have been building their case, NATO has been intensifying airstrikes against Col. Gadhafi’s troops in several areas of Libya in a bid to weaken his brutal crackdown against the rebels.
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