28 Jun 2011

Arrest warrant issued for Gaddafi

7:29 am on 28 June 2011

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The presiding judge says there are reasonable grounds to believe that Colonel Gaddafi is responsible for crimes against humanity committed by his forces in response to an uprising that began in February this year against his 41-year rule.

A spokesperson for the Libyan rebel council has welcomed the arrest warrant.

Colonel Gaddafi is now officially a wanted man, as is his son Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi, the BBC reports.

Judge Sanji Monageng said in The Hague she was satisfied that arrests warrants were needed.

Colonel Gaddafi and the other two men are alleged to have been responsible for crimes against humanity committed by the Libyan security forces, including murder and persecution.

The Libyan government says the International Criminal Court has no legitimacy. It denies targeting civilians, saying it took action against armed criminal gangs and al Qaeda militants.

It says NATO should be prosecuted instead for killing civilians with its bombing campaign.

Meanwhile, rebels trying to oust Colonel Gaddafi say their forces have advanced to within 80km of the capital.

The rebels say they made their biggest breakthrough in weeks to reach the town of Bir al-Ghanam, where they are fighting pro-Gaddafi forces for control.