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ICC Prosecutor seeks Gaddafi arrest warrant

THE HAGUE, May 16 – The UN war crimes court\’s chief prosecutor said Monday he had sought arrest warrants for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam and intelligence head Abdullah Senussi for crimes against humanity.

"Today, the office of the prosecutor requested the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants," Luis Moreno-Ocampo said at a press conference in The Hague, where the International Criminal Court is based.

"Therein it will show that Gaddafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed civilians," he said.

"He ordered attacks on Libyan civilians in their homes and in public spaces," the prosecutor continued, adding, "he shot at demonstrators using live ammunition, using heavy weaponry against … funeral processions and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after prayers."

The prosecutor said Gaddafi also used his inner circle and family to enforce his absolute rule.

"His second-oldest son Seif al-Islam is his de-facto prime minister. Al-Senussi, Gaddafi\’s brother-in-law, is his right-hand man."

A panel of ICC judges will now have to decide whether to accept or reject the prosecutor\’s application, based on his case file.

Moreno-Ocampo announced on March 3, when the revolt against Gaddafi\’s regime was less than three weeks old, that he was opening an investigation into human rights abuses in Libya.

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His investigation targeted eight people, including Gaddafi and three of his sons.

Thousands of people have been killed in the violence and around 750,000 people forced to flee, according to UN figures.

Monday\’s application was the second time the ICC prosecutor has asked for a head of state to be arrested. In July 2008 he applied for an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, which was granted but has not been executed.

More than 1,200 documents including video and pictures were reviewed in the investigation against Gaddafi and more than 50 interviews conducted or individuals screened to be interviewed.

The probe took staff of the prosecutor\’s office on 30 missions to 11 states, but its spokeswoman Florence Olara said last week Libya itself was not visited because it did not want to endanger witnesses there.

The Argentinean prosecutor said a five-person team from his office finalised a 74-page document with nine annexes on Sunday, which he had filed before the ICC.

Moreno-Ocampo said a third charge of war crimes, which included rapes and attacks since the end of February, would be the subject of a separate investigation.

Established in 2002, the ICC is the world\’s first permanent, treaty-based court set up to try those accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide if the accused\’s own country cannot or will not do so.

The application for arrest warrants come as Gaddafi\’s regime offered a truce in return for an immediate NATO ceasefire on Monday, and Italy\’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said some Libyan members of government were looking for a way for their leader to go into exile.

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