Gaddafi's arrest ordered for mass murder and 'atrocities'
Arrest warrants were issued for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, one of his sons and his regime's security chief yesterday, for "inhuman" war crimes against rebels and Libya's civilian population.
On the 100th day of NATO bombing operations, the International Criminal Court (ICC) charged the Libyan dictator, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi, his head of military intelligence, with mass murder of opponents and armed attacks on protesters.
Thousands have died in fighting since Gaddafi ordered the military suppression of rebels and pro-democracy protesters in February. The conflict has driven 650,000 Libyans out of the country.
Sanji Mmasenono Monageng, an ICC judge said: "There are reasonable grounds to believe that Gaddafi, in co-ordination with his inner circle, conceived and orchestrated a plan to deter and quell the civilian population demonstrating against the regime and those perceived to be dissidents."
Judge Monageng urged the arrest of Gaddafi and his son Saif, his second-in-command, to "prevent them from continuing to use their power and control over the Libyan state apparatus to continue the persecution of crimes".
While Gaddafi and his son are wanted for all atrocities committed across Libya over the past four months, the warrant for Senussi, the Libyan dictator's brother in law, is indicted for "inhuman acts" committed in Benghazi by forces under his control.
William Hague, the British foreign secretary, called on Gaddafi to step down "immediately" and warned Libyan officials and military commanders that they would be put in the dock with him if the conflict continued.
"People at all levels of seniority should think carefully about the consequences of what they do, whether they are ordering attacks on civilians or carrying them out," he said.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO's secretary general, warned: "Gaddafi and his henchmen need to realise that time is rapidly running out for them. NATO is more determined than ever."
According to Tunisia's state news agency, Abdelati Obeidi, the Libyan foreign minister, is on the island of Djerba holding negotiations "with several foreign parties''.
Separately, the Syrian government has invited opposition figures to talks in the first sign of cracks in the regime's hard line response to a three-month uprising.
The invitation was issued yesterday as the first legal gathering of opposition figures for decades was allowed in the capital, Damascus. Among the 100 people at the meeting were former political prisoners of the Ba'athist regime of President Bashar al-Assad who called for a transition to democracy.
"The tyrannical regime in power must go," said Louay Hussein, a lawyer jailed by Mr Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad, for communist activities.
A joint statement from the dissidents promised to continue the "peaceful uprising".
While Mr Assad has promised to institute reform, yesterday's offer is the first clear promise to embark on changes. (© Daily Telegraph, London)