The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, accusing him of committing of crimes against humanity. Warrants were also issued for his son Saif al-Islam and former intelligence minister Abdullah al-Senussi.
Announcing the ruling, presiding judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng said Gaddafi and his son “conceived and orchestrated a plan to deter and quell by all means the civilian demonstrations” criticising the regime and that Senussi used his position to carry out their orders.
The Gaddafi regime says it does not recognise the legitimacy of the court as it did not ratify the treaty that created the court, the Treaty of Rome.
Gaddafi becomes the second serving head of state to have an ICC arrest warrant issued against him: Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir is wanted in connection with alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. He continues to defy the warrant.
The ICC has no way of enforcing its warrants other than depending on national governments to carry them out.
In Gaddafi’s case, the United Nations Security Council began the process when, on February 26, it asked the ICC’s chief prosecutor to investigate accusations of crimes against humanity. On May 16 the prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, asked the court to issue the warrants against Gaddafi, his son and Senussi. He accused them of the “pre-determined” killing and persecution of Libyan civilians which left thousands of people dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
Gaddafi, 69, has led Libya since overthrowing King Idriss in a coup 42 years ago. His 39-year-old son Saif al-Islam, although he has no formal title, is described by Moreno-Ocampo as Libya’s ‘de facto prime minister’, while Senussi, 62, is put forward as Gaddafi’s right-hand-man.