|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Prosecutor of International Criminal Court on Libyan Situation
Probably the most urgent activity for the Libyan authorities right now was for them to decide who among the “thousands” of prisoners filling up the country’s prisons as a result of allegations of crimes committed during the reign of former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi should be investigated or released, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, International Criminal Court Prosecutor told reporters today in New York.
Addressing a Headquarters press conference after briefing the Security Council earlier today, the Prosecutor explained that he had presented to the Council the Court’s “general views” of what had happened in Libya, where there had been thousands of allegations of crimes committed during the Qadhafi regime. The huge challenge now was for the national authorities to decide among the thousands of prisoners who would progressively be transferred to them, who would be set free and who would not. Some 1,500 prisoners had been transferred to the authorities just a few weeks ago. The situation was complex, as there were different allegations against different forces; not just about the Qadhafi forces.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said the United Nations Commission of Inquiry had collected information revealing that there had been 25,944 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) sorties and 7,642 air-to-surface weapons used during 32,000 operations. The Commission had found that five incidents — air strikes — had reportedly killed 66 civilians. The Prosecutor had no authority to evaluate NATO’s activities in Libya, as they had been carried out under a Security Council mandate; his Office could only take note of the incidents established by the Commission of Inquiry. “But we are still collecting information about these five incidents,” he said, adding that the Prime Minister of Libya had also reported to the Council Libya’s intention to follow up on the incidents, too.
The policy of his Office, he emphasized, was to respect national positions. He noted that Libya’s Ambassador had reported that the country was in the process of developing a comprehensive plan to deal with all the crimes, and had recently adopted legislation that would ensure justice in the prosecution of the accused and the creation of a reconciliation committee.
The Prosecutor said he had earlier underscored to the Council the importance of bringing to justice the three persons accused of being the most responsible for the war crimes during the Libyan revolution: former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi; Saif al-Islam Qadhafi; and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. He had informed the Council that the Libyan authorities wished to investigate and prosecute the case against Saif al-Islam Qadhafi in domestic courts, and it pledged to do so in accordance with international standards.
Turning to other areas of activity of his Office, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo reported that his Office had filed an application on the Kenyan situation where the accused had requested the trial chamber to postpone the beginning of the trial, and, in turn, the chamber had sought his opinion. Many Kenyan citizens were requesting that the Court proceed with the trial as soon as possible in order to define the responsibility of “suspects” before the elections planned next year. “However, even if we start today, it is not possible to resolve that,” he said.
He explained that the Court had a jurisdictional mandate and it would evaluate individual responsibility, but it should not define the candidates in Kenya in the next elections or the winners in the next elections. The Kenyan political situation should be dealt with politically by political actors; the Court should not be expected to define the political situation in that country. He added, however, that neither the Court nor his Office was opposed to postponing the beginning of the trial until the appeal chamber saw the claim presented by defendants.
Among the other activities of the Court, the Deputy Prosecutor yesterday had led the Office in the closing arguments in the Germain Katanga case. The Court’s final decision was expected in a few weeks. Also this week, warrants had been requested in some pending cases, including that of Bosco Ntaganda. He believed action on those would be an important contribution to solving the conflict in the Great Lakes region.
Asked for a response to the Libyan Transitional Council’s adoption of “law 38”, which, the correspondent said, sought to grant “blanket amnesty” to those that committed crimes for the good of the revolution against the Qadhafi regime, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo replied that legally, no national amnesty could stop an International Criminal Court investigation and, therefore, such a law was not binding on the Court.
Today, he added, the Libyan Ambassador had been clear in stating that the Government would investigate the allegations against the different sides. The Security Council members had also been very clear about the need to see that justice was done on all sides, he added.
Asked how the Court would ensure that the thousands of detainees — who, the correspondent said, had fought that war on the principles of democracy and justice — no longer suffered torture or mistreatment at the hands of the militias, the Prosecutor said: “We cannot”; national authorities were in charge of the “national State”, and it was, therefore, the State’s responsibility to ensure that.
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