Muammar Gaddafi 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
TRIPOLI/AMSTERDAM - The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said on Tuesday it could be "game over" within months for Muammar Gaddafi, but China reacted cautiously to the issuing of an arrest warrant for the Libyan leader on charges of crimes against humanity.
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"Today, it is time for arrests," ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told reporters in The Hague, a day after the ICC approved warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.
"It is a matter of time ... Gaddafi will face charges. The arrest warrants are not going away."
He added: "I don't think we will have to wait for long...In two or three months it is game over."
Prosecutors allege the three men were involved in the killing of
civilian protesters who rose up in February against Gaddafi's 41-year
rule. Rebels have pushed to within 80 km (50 miles) of the capital
China stopped short of condemning or endorsing the court's action.
"China hopes the ICC can prudently, justly and objectively carry out its
duties, and ensure that its relevant work genuinely aids regional peace
and stability," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said when asked
about the warrants.
China has denounced the ICC's war crimes indictment of Sudanese
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is currently on a state visit in
Beijing. He and Gaddafi are the only sitting heads of state facing
warrants from the court.
Beijing generally avoids entangling itself in the domestic affairs of
other nations and has been skeptical about the NATO military operation
to shore up rebels fighting Gaddafi.
But Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told Libyan rebel leaders last week
that they had become an "important domestic political force" in the
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the ICC arrest warrants demonstrated
why NATO -- which has been riven by disputes over a costly operation
that has dragged on longer than some foresaw -- must continue until it
fulfills its UN mandate.
"The arrest warrants are yet another signal from the international
community to the Gaddafi regime: 'Your place is on trial, not in power
in Tripoli'," she told a press briefing. But she added it was not up to
NATO to enforce the warrant.
Bulgaria and Croatia added their names on Tuesday to the list of now 21
countries who have recognized the rebel National Transitional Council
(NTC), based in Benghazi in east Libya, as the sole legitimate
representative of the Libyan people.
Anti-Gaddafi rebels based in the Western Mountains region southwest of
Tripoli made their biggest breakthrough in weeks on Sunday to reach the
town of Bir al-Ghanam, where they are now fighting pro-Gaddafi forces
for control, their spokesman said.
The move took them 30 km (18 miles) north of their previous position and closer to Tripoli, Gaddafi's main power base.
A rebel spokesman said there had been further fighting on Monday.
"Fighting broke out yesterday evening in Bir Ayad and Bir al-Ghanem. The
(government) brigades used Grad rockets. The fighting stopped later
after strikes by NATO," he said.
"The brigades bombarded Nalut last night... The humanitarian situation is still the same. We are without electricity and water."
A rebel spokesman in Misrata said Gaddafi's forces struck at the
Mediterranean coastal city some 200 km (125 miles) east of Tripoli
"Gaddafi's forces bombarded Misrata last night. There were no
casualties, thank God. Today the situation is quiet for the moment,"
said the spokesman, who gave his name as Youssef.