UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - International Criminal Court investigators have evidence linking Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to a policy of raping opponents and may bring separate charges on the issue, the ICC prosecutor said on Wednesday.
Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested arrest warrants on May 16 against Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and the country's spy chief on charges of crimes against humanity committed during attempts to crush the country's rebellion.
ICC judges are considering Moreno-Ocampo's request, but the prosecutor said that after their decision, he might present new charges of mass rape.
The rape allegation is not new. It was raised in the U.N. Security Council in April by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who said some of Gaddafi's troops had been issued with the impotency drug Viagra. Moreno-Ocampo said in an interview with Reuters on May 2 he was investigating the allegation.
At a U.N. news conference on Wednesday, he said the question until recently had been whether Gaddafi himself could be associated with the rapes "or is it something that happened in the barracks?"
"But now we are getting some information that Gaddafi himself decided" to authorize the rapes, "and this is new," Moreno-Ocampo said.
"It never was the pattern he used to control the population. The rape is a new aspect of the repression," he said. "Apparently, he decided to punish using rapes."
Moreno-Ocampo repeated the allegation of use of impotency drugs, saying his team was finding "some elements" confirming the purchase of "Viagra type of medicaments." He said there was evidence of Libya acquiring "containers" of such drugs "to enhance the possibility to rape women."
The prosecutor said it was difficult to know how widespread the rape was but he had received information there were several hundred victims in some areas.
The U.N. Security Council referred the violence in Libya to the Hague-based ICC in February.