ICC prosecutor to open probe into Libya violence

Libyan Human Rights League says an estimated 6,000 people have died in the gov't crackdown; UNSC to refer case to the Hague-based court.

United Nations 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
United Nations 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
AMSTERDAM - The International Criminal Court prosecutor said on Wednesday he would investigate the violence in Libya after the United Nations Security Council referred the case to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal.
An estimated 6,000 people have died in Libya as a result of the violent crackdown by the Muammar Gaddafi regime in response to opposition protests which sparked almost two weeks ago, the Libyan Human Rights league said on Wednesday.RELATED:US warships head to Libya as Gaddafi bombs cityMoussa announces run for Egyptian presidencyGaddafi defies calls to resign: 'I will die a martyr'Key Western nations want condemnation of Libya
The Security Council on Saturday imposed sanctions on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family, and referred Libya's crackdown on anti-government demonstrators to the ICC.
"Following a preliminary examination of available information, the prosecutor has reached the conclusion that an investigation is warranted," the prosecutor said in a statement.
On Thursday, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will present an overview of alleged crimes committed in Libya since Feb. 15 and of "preliminary information as to the entities and persons who could be prosecuted and put them on notice to avoid future crimes".
Once he has gathered sufficient evidence, the next step would be for the prosecutor to present his case to ICC judges, who will need to decide whether or not to issue arrest warrants.
Moreno-Ocampo has said previously "information suggests that forces loyal to President Muammar Gaddafi are attacking civilians in Libya" adding that this could constitute crimes against humanity.
Gaddafi, orchestrating a populist response to rebels threatening his rule, blamed al Qaida on Wednesday for creating turmoil and told applauding supporters there was a conspiracy to control Libya and its oil.
Gaddafi, who said no more than 150 people were killed in the unrest caused by "terrorists", told an audience of loyalists in a speech shown live on state television that if Washington or other foreign powers entered Libya they would face a bloody war.