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ICC to investigate Gadhafi

  |   March 2, 2011 at 7:44 PM
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TRIPOLI, Libya, March 2 (UPI) -- An International Criminal Court prosecutor said Wednesday an investigation of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi for possible crimes against humanity is in order.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he will present an overview Thursday in The Hague, Netherlands, of the alleged crimes committed by Gadhafi since Feb. 15, in which more than 1,000 people have been reported killed, U.N. News reported. ICC judges will decide whether to issue arrest warrants after hearing Moreno-Ocampo's evidence.

The U.N. General Assembly Tuesday adopted a resolution to suspend Libya from its seat on the Human Rights Council, the first time the assembly had suspended a member of the council.

"The world has spoken with one voice," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "We demand an immediate end to the violence toward civilians and full respect for their fundamental human rights, including those of peaceful assembly and free speech."

Ban said reports from the ground were "sobering." Libya's ambassador to the United States estimated the death toll was about 2,000, CNN said.

Ban said the number of refugees and displaced persons was reaching crisis proportions as Libyans fled into neighboring countries.

In their first foray into rebel-held eastern Libya, Moammar Gadhafi's forces claimed to recapture a major oil facility Wednesday.

Hundreds of untrained young men and ill-equipped soldiers supporting the revolt rushed out of Benghazi to repel the counterattack on the Sirte Oil Co. complex in Port Brega, the Los Angeles Times reported. The rebels claimed to have retaken the facility, which supplies the east's fuel, but that could not be confirmed.

In Tripoli, Gadhafi delivered a long speech Wednesday vowing to "put two fingers" in his foes' eyes. He said the people, not he, rule Libya.

A tribal leader said military camps near Ajdabiya were attacked from the air as pro-government forces moved into a town that had been controlled by the opposition, CNN reported.

Gadhafi used the anniversary of the creation of the People's Authority in 1977 to say he is neither president nor prime minister, but serves only in an advisory capacity. He said he laughed when he heard his name in news reports because "I carried out the revolution and then stood down. Now, power and authority is in the hands of the people."

"I led the revolution in 1977 and I went back to my tent," he said to a room of supporters and journalists.

"What office can I leave? I have no position to resign from," Gadhafi said through a translator.

He repeated his belief al-Qaida operatives and possibly Libyans living abroad were behind the unrest. He said al-Qaida sleeper cells were at work in several cities now under control of opposition forces.

He said supporters told him: "There is no opposition within Libya against you. … If they attack our symbol, which is you … we are prepared to die."

Attacks on him were attacks on the Libyan people, Gadhafi said.

"We will put two fingers in the eyes … of whoever defies the Libyan people," he said to shouts of approval.

Rebel leaders in eastern Libya have called for international military intervention to help topple Gadhafi, saying they don't want ground forces but strategic airstrikes, weapons and a no-fly zone in their efforts to remove the autocratic leader from his remaining strongholds, The Washington Post reported.

U.S. military officials said rebels have yet to ask for assistance, and downplayed the likelihood of the United States setting up a no-fly zone, the Post said.

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, one of the leader's sons, told CNN his talks with the opposition were in "chaos" because the opposition had no clear leaders. U.S. officials made similar comments about the opposition forces.

The United States is considering whether "to maintain relations or sever" diplomatic ties with Libya, a senior official told CNN.

In the Mediterranean Sea, the USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce were being repositioned to "provide us a capability for both emergency evacuations and also for humanitarian relief," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

During a news conference Tuesday with Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen said a no-fly zone was "an extraordinarily complex operation to set up," The New York Times reported.

Gates said the U.N. Security Council hasn't authorized military force and there was "no unanimity within NATO for the use of armed force."

Also, "we also have to think about, frankly, the use of the U.S. military in another country in the Middle East," Gates said.

About 50,000 United States troops are in Iraq and about 100,000 in Afghanistan.

Canada has joined a number of nations that have frozen Libyan assets, freezing $2.3 billion in assets tied to the Libyan government, Canadian officials said.

Canada dispatched a warship with 240 sailors from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Libya Wednesday morning. Canada already has four large military aircraft on standby in Malta, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.

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