The International Criminal Court prosecutor asked judges yesterday to issue arrest warrants for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and two other senior members of his regime, accusing them of committing crimes against humanity by targeting civilians in a crackdown against rebels.
The move by the prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, came as rebel fighters inside the Libyan city of Misrata yesterday said they had driven Colonel Gaddafi's forces from another key point on the port city's outskirts, but there were conflicting reports on whether the rebels would advance further for fear of opening too wide a front.
Mr Moreno-Ocampo said he was seeking warrants against Colonel Gaddafi as well as his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and his intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Sanoussi. The three, he said, ordered, planned and participated in illegal attacks.
He said Colonel Gaddafi's forces attacked civilians in their homes, shot at demonstrators protesting against his 40 years of rule with live ammunition, shelled funeral processions and deployed snipers to kill people leaving mosques.
Judges in The Hague must now evaluate the evidence before deciding whether to confirm the charges and issue international arrest warrants. "The case is now in their hands," Mr Moreno-Ocampo told a press conference.
A Libyan government spokesman had no immediate comment.