Hague court probing Libyan war crimes despite fight over trials

UNITED NATIONS Wed May 8, 2013 2:52pm EDT

Two policemen stand outside the court as Saif al-Islam, a son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, made his appearance, in Zintan, 160 km (99 miles) southwest of Tripoli May 2, 2013. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Two policemen stand outside the court as Saif al-Islam, a son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, made his appearance, in Zintan, 160 km (99 miles) southwest of Tripoli May 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ismail Zitouny

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court is still investigating war crimes in Libya despite a clash with the country's government over who has the right to try former leader Muammar Gaddafi's son and his spy chief, the court's prosecutor said on Wednesday.

The Hague-based court wants to try Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam and Gaddafi's former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on war crimes, but Libya wants the pair to face justice in the North African state.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the U.N. Security Council that while investigations into Saif al-Islam and Senussi had been suspended until a decision was made on where to try them, her office was continuing to probe other crimes in Libya.

"My office is aware of allegations of serious crimes committee by former Gaddafi officials, some of who are now outside of Libya," she told the 15-member council.

"We are currently engaged in the process of documenting the most serious of those crimes and documenting the current activities of those officials who were most responsible for them," Bensouda said.

She said her office will decide whether to pursue a new case "in the near future" and would then consider additional cases. She gave no details on the possible new case.

Libyan lawyer Ahmed al-Jehani, who acts as a liaison between the ICC and the Tripoli government, has said he expected the ICC to decide this month if Libya can conduct Saif al-Islam's and Senussi's trials or whether they should be tried in The Hague.

The court began its work a decade ago and can investigate crimes in countries that have ratified its treaty. It can only pursue crimes in non-member states if authorized by the Security Council, which was the case with Libya.


Libya has challenged the court on the admissibility of Saif al-Islam's and Senussi's cases.

"A state seeking a finding of inadmissibility of cases before the ICC must satisfy the judges that it is genuinely investigating and prosecuting the same persons for the same conduct as that under investigation by ... the prosecutor, that is the law and nothing short of that will suffice," she said.

Bensouda said she plans to travel to Libya shortly for talks with the "highest political authorities."

An uprising in Libya sparked nine months of fighting that ended in October 2011 when rebels captured and killed Gaddafi. Since then, Libyan authorities have struggled to control armed groups who are now competing for power.

"Given the extensive crimes committed in Libya and the challenges facing the new Libyan government, the ICC's mandate is still essential to ending impunity in Libya," she said.

"What happens with Libya's perpetrators is a page in the history books of international justice, no matter where those investigations and prosecutions take place," Bensouda said. "They must be a shining example of what can be achieved through human endeavors to seek justice."

Libya's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi said that his government viewed the ICC as a "necessary and important partner in this stage to achieve justice and prevent impunity."

"Libya hopes that all states will cooperate with legal Libyan authorities as well as with the ICC in conducting investigations and helping bring the accused to justice," he told the Security Council.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Xavier Briand)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
50cal wrote:
If Hauge wants to investigate a war crime against Lybia why don’t the look into the premeditated murder of an unarmed diplomat?

May 08, 2013 4:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Arnleif wrote:

Of course the ICC should drop whatever they are doing and address the concerns of those who matters in the world, Americans first in line above all others.

Perhaps the day when ICC are done putting the real mafiosos like American presidents on trial will, your claim have any faint truism to it.

Besides, what democratic elected government in Libya accepted western diplomatic status from countries like US, France and Britain?

You simply put “diplomats” in Libya without any other authorization than the puppet regime you installed. And now you want ICC to hunt down the “war criminals” that killed your “diplomat”? You Americans are truly the most arrogant people on the face on this planet. Such behavior is probably only matched by the big crocks France and Britain when they were at their height of committing war crimes far beyond anything the former leaders of Libya now stand trial for. Which of course never have been addressed.

Why on earth should your concern be moved at front, when there are are so many oblivious unaddressed crimes committed in this world that dwarf the killing of your “diplomat” to a level beyond ridiculousness.

May 08, 2013 7:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

A tourist takes a plunge as she swims at Ngapali Beach, a popular tourist site, in the Thandwe township of the Rakhine state, October 6, 2013. Picture taken October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun (MYANMAR - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR3FOI0

Where do you want to go?

We look at when to take trips, budget considerations and the popularity of multigenerational family travel.   Video