The International Criminal Court's prosecution applied today for a warrant for Muammar Gaddafi's arrest for crimes against humanity, a day after the Libyan strongman's regime offered truce in return for a halt to NATO-led air strikes.
NATO-led aircraft meanwhile launched fresh raids on an outlying suburb of the capital Tripoli, destroying a radar base, the state news agency JANA and residents said. ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said warrants were also sought for one of Gaddafi's sons, Seif al-Islam, and intelligence head Abdullah Senussi for crimes against humanity.
"Today, the office of the prosecutor requested the International Criminal Court arrest warrants," Moreno-Ocampo told a news conference in The Hague, where the court is based.
The Argentine prosecutor said there was evidence "that Muammar Gaddafi personally ordered attacks on innocent Libyan civilians."
A panel of ICC judges will now decide whether to accept or reject the prosecutor's application. Protests against Gaddafi's four-decade rule began on February 15 and Moreno-Ocampo said thousands of people had now been killed in the violence and around 750,000 people forced to flee. British Foreign Secretary William Hague called on the international community to "fully support" the ICC. "I welcome this announcement.
The human rights situation in western Libya and the behaviour of the Gaddafi regime remains of grave concern," Hague said. "The request for these warrants is a reminder to all in Gaddafi's regime that crimes will not go unpunished and the reach of international justice will be long. Those responsible for attacks on civilians must be held to account." Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the days of Gaddafi's regime were "numbered" and that some Libyan officials were looking for a way for their leader to go into exile.
"Messages have been arriving from the regime's restricted circle," Frattini said in a Channel 5 television interview. "Certain (members) have spoken under cover and are beginning to say that Gaddafi is looking for an honourable way out," he added. Since the Libyan conflict began, thousands of refugees and migrants from North Africa have fled in rickety fishing boats to Italy's southern shores, sparking consternation over a possible mass exodus to Europe. Yesterday, Gaddafi's prime minister Baghdadi Mahmudi offered a truce to UN special envoy, Abdul-Ilah al-Khatib, in return for an immediate NATO ceasefire.