By Tamara Alfred
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
Seif al-Islam Gadhafi will eventually face justice in The Hague but it is not clear where the son of Libya’s former dictator is hiding, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Wednesday. ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that mercenary forces may be trying to help him escape Libya, even while people linked to him have been in contact with the ICC about his possible surrender.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo also said he was making headway with an investigation into allegations of widespread rapes by Gadhafi supporters.
Moreno-Ocampo told the Associated Press that he believed the rapes were part of an organized campaign of sexual abuse. “We have one witness who was a soldier who says he received instructions to rape.”
Moreno-Ocampo’s report also said some witnesses indicated Moammar Gadhafi and al-Senussi had discussed “the use of rape to persecute those considered dissidents or rebels,” but that it was too soon to determine “who may be the most responsible for such gender crimes.”
Moreno-Ocampo told the U.N. Security Council last week investigators are probing hundreds of alleged rapes, but he said the true number could run into the thousands. Investigators are also looking into reported atrocities by Libyan forces, mercenaries and anti-government forces, as well as the reported deaths of Libyan civilians in NATO airstrikes. Moreno-Ocampo said allegations of crimes perpetrated by the opposition national Transitional Council included detention of civilians suspected of being mercenaries and the killing of detained combatants. He did not provide details of possible crimes by NATO forces.
Rights groups have said NTC fighters singled out sub-Saharan African migrant workers for arbitrary arrest due to assumptions they supported Gadhafi. Western allies, meanwhile, have denied allegations they deliberately targeted civilians during NATO’s seven-month bombing campaign.
Meanwhile, the court’s investigators are looking into the probable whereabouts of Seif al-Islam and former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi. The court is also encouraging their arrests. Both men have been charged by the ICC with crimes against the Libyan people during the conflict.
“If is not if he will be arrested, it is when,” Moreno-Ocampo said. “Seif will face justice, that’s his destiny. It is up to the U.N. Security Council and the states to ensure that they face justice for the crimes for which they are charged.”
Additionally, Moreno-Ocampo said that the ICC had offered Seif al-Islam the possibility of safe transfer to The Hague to stand trial with legal representation.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said Gadhafi and al-Senussi “must be brought to justice in a legitimate process governed by the rule of law.”
Seif-al Islam, whom the court described as the de facto prime minister during the early months of the uprising, was the heir apparent in the regime that rules Libya for 42 years.
The U.N. Security Council authorized the court to investigate events in Libya in February.
Libya’s National Transitional Council has promised to examine what happened, but the statement by Ambassador Ivan Barbalic said the investigation must be seen as impartial. “The rule of law should be a cornerstone of the new rebuilt country.” Libyan Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi said that Tripoli would ensure all those involved in crimes not covered by ICC jurisdiction received “transparent investigations and fair and just trials in Libyan courts.”
For more information, please see:
Huffington Post – Saif Al Islam Gaddafi will be arrested, International Court’s Luis Moreno Ocampo says – 9 November 2011
Reuters Africa – ICC prosecutor may bring Libya rape charges – 9 November 2011
CNN – ICC: Mercenaries may try to help Gadhafi son escape – 3 November 2011
Voice of America – ICC Prosecutor to Investigate All Sides in Libya – 2 November 2011