Muammar Gaddafi 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
International Criminal Court has evidence Muammar Gaddafi's government
planned to put down protests by killing civilians before the uprising in
Libya broke out, the ICC's prosecutor said on Tuesday.Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict have similarly failed to make any
progress with the government side offering concessions, but insisting
Gaddafi stay in power and the rebels adamant that Libya's leader for the
past 41 years leave.
against the government that began on Feb. 15 swiftly descended into
civil war after Gaddafi's forces opened fire on demonstrators. He then
put down uprisings in Libya's west, leaving the east and the city of
Misrata in rebel hands.
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NATO-led air power is now holding the balance in Libya, preventing
Gaddafi's forces from overrunning the seven-week old revolt, but unable
for now to hand the rebels outright victory.
The United Nations Security Council, which on March 17 sanctioned air
strikes on Libyan government forces to prevent them killing civilians,
in February referred Libya to the ICC, the world's first permanent war
Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is to report back to the UN on May 4, and is then expected to request arrest warrants.
"We have evidence that after the Tunisia and Egypt conflicts in January,
people in the regime were planning how to control demonstrations inside
Libya," Moreno-Ocampo told Reuters.
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"They were hiding that from people outside and they were planning how to
manage the crowds ... the evidence we have is that the shooting of
civilians was a pre-determined plan."
"The planning at the beginning was to use tear gas and (if that failed to work) ..., shooting," he added.
Court sought defector
The court prosecutor wants to speak to former Libyan Foreign Minister
Moussa Koussa who defected to Britain last week saying he did so because
of attacks on civilians by Gaddafi's forces.
Koussa's defection would be taken into consideration in the
investigation into Gaddafi, his sons and aides, Moreno-Ocampo said,
hinting others inside the government might follow suit.
"The fact that Moussa Koussa defected is interesting because that is one
option you have. If you have no power to stop the crimes then you can
defect to show you are not responsible," he said.
Fighting on the frontline in the eastern oil terminal town of Brega has
become bogged down with Gaddafi's advantage in tanks and artillery
canceled out by NATO-led air strikes which effectively back the rebels.
After a series of rapid rebel advances followed by headlong retreats,
the insurgents held their ground for six days in Brega, putting their
best trained forces in to battle for the town and keeping the
disorganized volunteers away.
A Western air strike destroyed two government trucks mounted with heavy
machine guns in Brega on Tuesday, but a sustained government bombardment
of rockets and mortars then pushed the insurgent pick-up truck
cavalcade back towards Benghazi, their biggest retreat in several days
of inconclusive battles.
With rebel vehicles strung out in small groups, occasional rockets hit the desert near the road 20 km (12 miles) east of Brega.
The insurgents said Western air strikes had become less effective since
NATO took control from a big power coalition of France, Britain and the
United States last week.
"Since the day NATO took over the air strikes, we have been falling back," said Ziad el Khafiefy, 20, a rebel fighter.
"Gaddafi's troops are hitting us with Grad missiles," said Mabrouk el
Majbary, 35. "Something is wrong ... When the U.S. gave leadership to
NATO, the bombings stopped."
After more than two weeks of air strikes, NATO said it had destroyed 30 percent Gaddafi's military capacity.
Protesters gather outside Turkish Consulate in Benghazi
A group of Turkish diplomats and reporters were holed up inside the
Turkish consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Tuesday, as an angry mob of
Libyan anti-government protesters tried to force their way in, a
reporter inside the complex told the Jerusalem Post.
A reporter from a Turkish outlet said that an initial group of a dozen
protesters quickly turned to a mob of 500-600 people kicking at the
front doors and threatening to tear down the Turkish flag.
The reporter said that the crowd is incensed that the Turkish government
has not recognized the Libyan opposition government, but that their
anger is directed at Turkish PM Reyip Erdogan, and not the Turkish
people. The reporter said that others in the crowd accused the Turkish
government of "standing with the Gaddafi regime and killing their sons".
At the moment, consulate staff and reporters are being protected by a
contingent of Turkish commandos while they watch developments outside
the consulate, the reporter added.
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