War Crimes Committed in Libya, Says Former Special Court for Sierra Leone Prosecutor

Published on Wednesday 4th May 2011

A former prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone says investigations by the International Criminal Court show war crimes have been committed in Libya by forces loyal to embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Syracuse University Law professor David Crane says the investigations demonstrate pro-Gadhafi forces engaged “intentional firing into the civilian population.”  He said, “International humanitarian law strictures require that civilians be protected and not targeted intentionally.”
Crane denies claims that the Hague-based court only targets African leaders for human rights violations and war crimes.
The former prosecutor’s made the remarks as ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo briefed the Security Council Wednesday, on his plans to seek three arrest warrants for crimes against humanity committed in Libya.
Moreno-Ocampo said during a recent trip to Libya, he had uncovered “strong evidence” suggesting violations had occurred since anti-government unrest erupted in February.
David Crane says the International Criminal Court will ensure that perpetrators of war crimes in Libya are prosecuted, despite political challenges and considerations.
“There is politics involved in the removal or indictments of heads of state and their henchmen,” said Crane.  “The political aspect comes up with the peace versus justice issue, but there won’t be a permanent general amnesty,” he said.
Crane cited the prosecution of former Liberian President Charles Taylor as an example of international laws not recognizing guarantees to protect heads of state accused of committing war crimes.
The former prosecutor said he is confident the ICC will also look into allegations that anti-Gadhafi forces are responsible for some of the atrocities committed in the Libyan conflict.
He rejected criticisms that the Hague-based court primarily targets African leaders for human rights violations.
“The prosecutor himself or the ICC itself is not focused on Africa. Almost all of the cases the ICC is working in Africa are referred to it either by the Security Council or African state parties,” said Crane.


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