CAIRO (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court prosecutor said on Thursday he would present a case for possible war crimes by Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in May and that he could open a second case to include more recent attacks on civilians.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who is investigating Gaddafi, his sons and their inner circle for alleged crimes against civilians by Libyan government forces, said the probe was going well and that so far he had gathered “very good information”.
“I will go to the (United Nations) Security Council on May 4 to inform them about the progress of the case and it will be ready by the end of May,” Moreno-Ocampo told Reuters in an interview during a visit to Cairo.
Once he presents his case to ICC judges, they will need to decide whether or not to issue arrest warrants.
Moreno-Ocampo said that although his initial investigation centred around killings of civilians by security forces between February 15-26, he could open a second case to include more recent violence as fighting between rebels and troops loyal to Gaddafi broke out.
“I need to focus on what happened during the first 12 days, when unarmed demonstrators were shot. We can confirm this. The next step for us is to learn who was doing the shooting and who ordered the shooting,” Moreno-Ocampo said.
“Then I will focus on what happened during the armed conflict. At the beginning of March, the Red Cross said the armed conflict started and we agreed with that, so we have to see if there were war crimes committed in those days.”
A U.N. commission mandated by the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council is expected to head to the field in coming weeks to investigate crimes potentially committed in the armed conflict in Libya, and Moreno-Ocampo said he would wait for their report due in June to make a decision on the second case.
Thousands of people are feared dead as a result of fighting between security forces and rebels trying to end Gaddafi’s four-decade rule in the oil-producing North African country.
Western warplanes enforcing a U.N. no-fly zone have launched attacks against Gaddafi’s forces but his troops have continued besieging rebel-held cities with tanks and snipers.
“All this could amount to war crimes. Attacks on civilians are a war crime,” Moreno-Ocampo said. He said the evidence included pictures, videos and testimonies of people who have left the country and have no family remaining in Libya.
“I have to reduce all risks of retaliation to the witnesses. I can take no risk with somebody who has family in Libya, but we are getting very good information.”
The ICC is the world’s first permanent war crimes court with power to investigate crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. It has opened investigations in five African states.