The Hague, February 28, 2011 (FH) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, announced a preliminary probe of possible crimes against humanity committed in Libya, after a referral by the UN.

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The UN Security Council on February 26 referred the situation in Libya to the court, saying "the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place against the civilian population may amount to crimes against humanity."

New-York condemns "the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including the repression of peaceful demonstrators" and denounces "the incitement to hostility and violence against the civilian population made from the highest level of the Libyan government"

Luis Moreno-Ocampo has now to decide whether an investigation should be opened.

Libya is not a party to the Rome Statute that established the court, but now that the Security Council has referred the situation to the prosecutor's office, the country can be investigated. However, Prosecution has to rely on the cooperation of the States to lead investigations and arrest suspects. Only 114 States have ratified the ICC Treaty so far.

The UN Security council also adopted an international travel and assets ban that will target Muammar Gaddafi  and some of his sons, other family members and top defence and intelligence officials. Sixteen names are on the sanctions' list.

The vote is only the second time the Security Council has referred a country to the ICC, and the first time a vote for referral was unanimous. Sudan was referred to the ICC on March 31, 2005.

Since then, ICC has issued two international arrest warrants against Omar Al-Bachir for "genocide" and "crimes against humanity". At the time, Gaddafi had strongly criticize the decision, claiming that the ICC was "a new kind of international terrorism".


© Hirondelle News Agency