ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Melissa Block.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Moammar Gadhafi. The International Criminal Court in The Hague said the Libyan leader, along with one of his sons and another top official, should be tried for crimes against humanity. Those include murder and the persecution of civilians. Libya's government reacted angrily to the announcement.
NPR's Corey Flintoff has the story from Tripoli.
COREY FLINTOFF: The presiding judge of a three-member ICC panel read out the decision.
Judge SANJI MMASENONO MONAGENG (International Criminal Court): In Benghazi, Misrata, Tripoli and other neighboring cities...
FLINTOFF: Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng, of Botswana, said there were reasonable grounds to believe that Gadhafi; his son, Seif al-Islam; and Libyan intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Sanoussi, had orchestrated the killings of protesters at the start of the uprising in February. She said the arrests of the men appeared necessary.
Judge MONAGENG: ...to, one, ensure their appearance before the court. Two, ensure that they do not continue to use their power to obstruct or endanger the investigation in particular by orchestrating the cover-up of the crimes committed by the security forces...
FLINTOFF: Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the International Court has no legal authority.
Mr. MOUSSA IBRAHIM (Minister of Information, Libyan government): The ICC has no legitimacy whatsoever. We'll deal with it. We'll deal with it. But we know that it has nothing to do, but all of its activities are directed at African leaders. It has never questioned any genuine European leader, of course, apart from the Serb case. The NATO has been committing crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, in Iraq and Libya now. They have never even considered investigating the killing of many civilians in Iraq, many civilians in Afghanistan, many civilians in Libya.
FLINTOFF: An arrest warrant for Gadhafi might complicate any possibility that the Libyan leader could negotiate an exile in a third country since foreign governments would theoretically be required to arrest him.
But Richard Dicker, the director of the international justice program at Human Rights Watch, said Gadhafi has shown that he has no intention of leaving.
Mr. RICHARD DICKER (Director, International Justice Program, Human Rights Watch): Moammar Gadhafi, who has gripped power for 40 years, has made clear his determination to hang on to it, and it defies belief, as some would suggest, that this arrest warrant will be an obstacle to any kind of negotiated settlement for the crisis in Libya.
FLINTOFF: But Dicker says the international court needs to show its impartiality.
Mr. DICKER: It's imperative the prosecutor look at potential war crimes committed by all parties in the conflict, not only the Gadhafi government but the rebels and any potential war crimes that may have been committed in the course of the NATO air campaign.
FLINTOFF: It's unclear how much real effect the arrest warrant may have on the Gadhafis. The court issued a similar arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2009, but many countries have refused to enforce it. Bashir is currently visiting Iran and is planning to go on to China.
Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Tripoli.
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