UPDATE 2-U.N. rights investigators to start probe in Libya

Fri Apr 8, 2011 2:47pm GMT

* Team leaving on Sunday for Egypt, Tunisia and Libya

* Plans to go to Tripoli, Benghazi to gather testimony

* Will cooperate with ICC prosecutor in the Hague

(Recasts with fresh quotes)

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, April 8 (Reuters) - United Nations investigators said on Friday they would start next week to probe alleged human rights violations committed by all sides in Libya's conflict and share evidence with the U.N. war crimes tribunal.

The independent commission of inquiry said its mandate was to investigate abuses by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the rebels fighting to topple him, and foreign parties involved in the conflict.

The three-member team, headed by American war crimes expert Cherif Bassiouni, declined to reveal its exact travel schedule but will stop first in Egypt and also visit Tunisia and Libya.

It would gather testimony and evidence widely, including on rape and use of mercenaries, and make every effort to protect witnesses from reprisals.   Continued...

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