THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court prosecutor said on Monday he had requested arrest warrants for Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and the country's spy chief on charges of crimes against humanity.
ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo had said earlier this month he would seek three arrest warrants for the "pre-determined" killing of protesters in Libya following U.N. Security Council referral of the violence to the Hague-based court in February.
It had been widely expected that Moreno-Ocampo would seek an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Gaddafi, but in addition to a warrant for his son Saif, the prosecutor said he would also seek the arrest of Libya's head of espionage, Abdullah al-Senussi.
"The office gathered direct evidence about orders issued by Muammar Gaddafi himself, direct evidence of Saif al-Islam organizing the recruitment of mercenaries and direct evidence of the participation of al-Senussi in the attacks against demonstrators," Moreno-Ocampo said at the ICC.
He added the office of the prosecutor also documented how the three held meetings "to plan the operations" and Gaddafi used his "absolute authority to commit crimes in Libya".
The ICC prosecutor has moved with unprecedented swiftness in his investigation, with the request for arrest warrants coming just two and a half months after it the Security Council referral.
Moreno-Ocampo said the swiftness of his investigation stems from global consensus that the crimes committed in Libya had to be investigated, although judges will now need to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to issue warrants.
The ICC has no police force and relies on member states to enforce arrests. Despite NATO bombing operations intended to protect civilians, Libya has been plunged into civil war, seriously complicating efforts to arrest ICC suspects.
Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Giles Elgood