UNITED NATIONS – The International Criminal Court prosecutor said Wednesday he will seek arrest warrants in the coming weeks against three Libyans who appear to bear "the greatest criminal responsibility" for crimes against humanity in the current uprising.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the U.N. Security Council the evidence his office has collected establishes "reasonable grounds" to believe that widespread and systematic attacks have been and continue to be committed against civilians.
The Security Council voted unanimously on Feb. 26 to refer the Libyan crisis to the International Criminal Court and asked the prosecutor to report in two months.
Moreno-Ocampo said the evidence shows that Moammar Gadhafi's security forces have been systematically shooting at peaceful protestors, using the same tactics in multiple locations. He said information also shows that civilians in Tripoli and other government-controlled areas are subject to arrests, torture, killings and enforced disappearances.
Moreno-Ocampo did not identify the "three individuals who appear to bear the greatest criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity." He said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press that he would identify the Libyans he was seeking arrest warrants for when he presents the case to the court's pre-trial chamber.
The court must then decide whether to issue arrest warrants, reject his application or ask prosecutors for more evidence, he said.
"In all the incidents to be presented to the judges, the victims who were shot at by the security forces were unarmed civilians and there is no evidence of any attack against the security forces," Moreno Ocampo said, adding "there are at least two eyewitnesses for each incident, documents, and, in many cases, corroboration of details by pictures or video."
Gadhafi, who has been in power for more than four decades, has fought fiercely to put down an uprising against his regime that began with protests inspired by a wave of Mideast unrest and escalated into an armed rebellion.
Moreno-Ocampo said that since the end of February there has been an armed conflict in Libya and his office has also received "relevant information on the alleged commission of war crimes."
The prosecutor said his office is continuing investigations on the use of cluster bombs, the targeting of civilian areas, and allegations of rape.
Several sources have also reported the unlawful arrest, mistreatment and killings of "sub-Saharan African civilians wrongly perceived to be mercenaries," he said, noting that angry mobs in rebel-controlled Benghazi and other cities assaulted these black Africans and killed dozens of them.