Gaddafi faces war crimes trial: Libya

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AL-UQAYLA: Muammar Gaddafi struck at rebel control of a key Libyan coastal road for a second day on Thursday but received a warning he would be held to account at The Hague for suspected crimes by his security forces. 

In Paris, French foreign minister Alain Juppe said France and Britain would support the idea of setting up a no-fly zone over Libya if Gaddafi’s forces continued to attack civilians.

In Libya’s east, the site of a struggle for control of a strategically vital Mediterranean coastal road and oil industry facilities, witnesses said a warplane for a second day bombed the oil terminal town Brega, 800 km east of Tripoli.

Warplanes also launched two raids against the nearby rebel-held town of Ajbadiya, witnesses said.

Gaddafi’s son, Saif el-Islam, said the bombing of Brega was intended to scare off militia fighters and gain control of oil installations. “First of all the bombs (were) just to frighten them to go away,” he said. “Not to frighten them.”

But on the ground, events appeared to turn against Gaddafi, as rebels spearheading the unprecedented popular revolt pushed their frontline against government loyalists west of Brega, where they had repulsed an attack a day earlier. The opposition fighters said troops loyal to Gaddafi had been driven back to Ras Lanuf, home to another major oil terminal 600 km east of Tripoli. They also said they had captured a group of mercenaries.

In The Hague, International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Gaddafi and members of his inner circle, including some of his sons, could be investigated for alleged crimes committed since the uprising broke out in mid-February.

He said a request for arrest warrants over Libya could be made in a few months time. “We have identified some individuals in the de facto or former authority who have authority over the security forces who allegedly committed the crimes,” Moreno-Ocampo said. “They are Muammar Gaddafi, his inner circle including some of his sons, who had this de facto authority.”

Libyan government spokesman Musa Ibrahim told BBC Radio the news from The Hague was “close to a joke”. “No fact-finding mission has been sent to Libya. No diplomats, no ministers, no NGOs or organisations were sent to Libya to check the facts. No one can be sent to prison based on media reports,” he said.

The strife is causing a humanitarian crisis, especially on the Tunisian border where tens of thousands of foreign workers have fled to safety. reuters

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