In issuing the ruling, Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng said there was sufficient evidence to believe that the three Libyans “have committed the crimes alleged by the prosecutor” and that “their arrest appears necessary” to ensure they appear before the Hague-based court and to prevent them from continuing further crimes against the Libyan population.
She said the court’s registrar would seek the cooperation of Libya and other governments in securing the three men’s surrender.
“This decision once again highlights the increasing isolation of the Gaddafi regime,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “ It reinforces the reason for NATO’s mission to protect the Libyan people from Gaddafi’s forces. Gaddafi and his henchmen need to realize that time is rapidly running out for them. NATO is more determined than ever to keep up the pressure until all attacks on civilians have ended, until all regime forces have returned to their bases and until there is unhindered access to humanitarian aid for all those who need it.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney called the ICC warrants more evidence that “Gaddafi has lost his legitimacy.” He told reporters Monday, “This is another step in holding him accountable.”
Libyan officials did not immediately react to the issuance of a warrant on Monday, but the Tripoli government has long said it does not recognize the legitimacy of the court.
“All of its activities are directed at African leaders,” government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said Sunday. “Is it really trying to protect the people from war crimes? Or is it just conducting a hidden agenda for the West?”
It remains highly unlikely that Gaddafi’s own government would surrender him or his inner circle.
The decision to charge the Libyan leader has sparked a debate among scholars, military officers and government officials over the role of such a politically sensitive prosecution in the midst of an armed conflict. Some officials fear it will complicate efforts to get Gaddafi to step down, while others maintain that the charge will send a powerful message to other dictators not to use lethal force against civilians.
Still, the ruling adds to the mounting international pressure on Gaddafi to yield power.
Scores of Gaddafi’s top advisers and diplomats have defected from the government since NATO began an air campaign aimed at protecting civilians and forcing Gaddafi from power. But the Libyan leader has shown remarkable staying power, surviving an onslaught of NATO bombing strikes, one of which resulted in the death of one of his sons.