Prosecutor Seeks ICC Warrant for Gaddafi

The ICC may issue a warrant for Gaddafi.

Via the BBC:  Libya: ICC prosecutor seeks warrant for Gaddafi

The International Criminal Court chief prosecutor is seeking the arrest of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi and two others for crimes against humanity.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Col Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi bore the greatest responsibility for “widespread and systematic attacks” on civilians.

ICC judges must still decide whether or not to issue warrants for their arrest.

I know it will shock you all to know that the Libyan government has declared that it will ignore the warrant.

The basis for the warrant request are pretty straightforward:

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said that after reviewing more than 1,200 documents and 50 interviews with key insiders and witnesses, his office had evidence showing that Col Gaddafi had “personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians”.

“His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in public spaces, shot demonstrators with live ammunition, used heavy weaponry against participants in funeral processions, and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after prayers,” he told a news conference in The Hague.

“The evidence shows that such persecution is still ongoing as I speak today in the areas under Gaddafi control. Gaddafi forces have prepared a list with names of alleged dissidents, and they are being arrested, put into prisons in Tripoli and tortured,” he added.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said that Col Gaddafi had “committed the crimes with the goal of preserving his absolute authority”.

“The evidence shows that Gaddafi relied on his inner circle to implement a systematic policy of suppressing any challenge to his authority.”

“His second-oldest son, Saif al-Islam, is the de facto prime minister and Sanussi, Gaddafi’s brother-in-law, is his right-hand man – the executioner, the head of military intelligence. He commanded personally some of the attacks.”

Really, there can be little doubt that Gaddafi deserve prosecution for these crimes.  Some will, no doubt, retort that he deserves death.  However, I think that facing the humiliation of trial, as well as an open airing of his (and his regime’s) crimes would ultimately be more useful.

Of course, facing a warrant will likely decrease the likelihood that Gaddafi would ever decide to give up and leave for a comfy retirement in exile.  Perhaps those days are done for dictators.

The ICC is controversial in the US and, indeed, the US does not recognize the jurisdiction of the Court due to fear that ICC warrants might be issued for Americans.  And, in general, the US tends to be only lukewarm (as best) to such international institutions (not the least of which because as a hegemonic power, it tends not to see the need to cede authority to institutions that it cannot control or, at least, heavily influence).

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Guess that forty-first year of tyranny was just too much.

    And our ruling class of intellectual elitists wonder out loud why they aren’t better respected.

  2. @Charles:

    I am unclear on your point. Are you suggesting that Gaddafi was embraced by “intellectual elitist” in some general sense prior to now?

    Further, you do realize that the charges are directly linked to the shelling on civilians (and other like violence) rather than some general upset with tyranny, yes?

    Further, if something like the ICC is going to work (which is an open question) then it needs to be focused on specific events rather then just against authoritarians in some general sense.

  3. legion says:

    I’m eagerly awaiting the arguments of why we can’t apply the exact same reasoning to indict the leaders of Syria, China, etc, etc….

  4. Dr. Taylor, I have no love for the ICC, and my disdain for most international institutions remains unabated.

    As for the indictment they seek, I don’t know which is more laughably sad, that Gaddafi’s crimes only now rise to the level of the ICC’s interest or that Assad isn’t mentioned in the same request.

  5. george says:

    I’m eagerly awaiting the arguments of why we can’t apply the exact same reasoning to indict the leaders of Syria, China, etc, etc….

    I would think China would be obvious – there are people in Europe who wanted Cheney and Bush indicted. That’s about as likely to happen as Chinese leaders, and for the same reason …