ICC: Full Libyan war crimes investigation to open in days

Short preliminary investigation indicates the urgency of Libyan situation; Case is only second time a referral has come from the Security Council.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
February 28, 2011 14:35
2 minute read.
Libya body parts

Libya body parts 520. (photo credit: Associated Press)

THE HAGUE - The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor said on Monday he hoped to complete a preliminary examination of the violence in Libya in a few days before opening a full investigation.

The United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family, and referred Libya's crackdown on anti-government demonstrators to the International Criminal Court.

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When the office of the prosecutor receives a Security Council referral, the statute requires that prosecutors carry out a preliminary examination to see whether there is reasonable basis to proceed with a full investigation.

This is only the second ICC probe to be triggered by a UN Security Council referral. If its preliminary examination is completed in just a few days, this would highlight the urgency with which the office of the prosecutor views the case.

When the Security Council referred the Darfur crisis in Sudan to the ICC on March 31, 2005, it took two months for the prosecutor to open an investigation.

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Among the issues that the prosecutor will consider is the nature of the alleged crimes as the court has jurisdiction only over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

If the prosecutor decides to open an investigation, they may request from an ICC pre-trial chamber to deliver warrants of arrest or summonses to appear for people that may bear the highest responsibility for the alleged crimes.

There have been reports that Gadhafi's government forces have been firing indiscriminately on peaceful protesters. Estimates are that upwards of 1,000 people have been killed
Gadhafi is no stranger to international isolation.

UN sanctions were slapped on his country after suspected Libyan agents planted a bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people, mostly Americans.

Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing in 2003 and pledged to end efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction. The US and Libya in 2009 exchanged ambassadors for the first time in 35 years, after Libya paid about $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of the Lockerbie victims.

In Geneva on Friday, the UN Human Rights Council called for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Libya and recommended Libya's suspension from membership of the world body's top human rights body. The United Nations General Assembly is due to debate that matter early this week.


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