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ICC lawyer: Gadhafi used rape as weapon

ICC lawyer: Gadhafi used rape as weapon
Libyans burn books authored by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi at a local park of the Benghazi, Libya on March 2, 2011. Gadhafi warned the West against intervening in the rebellion against his rule. UPI/Mohamaad Hosam | License Photo

TRIPOLI, Libya, June 9 (UPI) -- Evidence indicates Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi used rape as a weapon and gave Viagra-type pills to troops, the International Criminal Court prosecutor said.

Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he was considering adding rape charges against the strongman after investigators found evidence sexual attacks on women were being used as a weapon in the months-long uprising by rebels, the United Nations said in a release Wednesday.

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Ocampo told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York his investigation found indications that hundreds of women were raped in the Libyan government crackdown on the popular uprising and that Gadhafi had ordered the violations as a form of punishment.

The prosecutor said there was evidence the government distributed Viagra-type pills to soldiers to encourage sexual attacks.

"We are finding some elements confirming this issue of acquisition of Viagra-type of [medication] to show a policy," Ocampo said in a release issued by the United Nations. "They were buying containers with products to enhance the possibility to rape, and we are getting the information in detail confirming the policy. We are trying to see who was involved."

Because rape hadn't been part of Gadhafi's repertoire, Ocampo said investigators had doubts at first.

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"But now we are more convinced," he said. "Apparently, [Gadhafi] decided to punish, using rape."

The prosecutor said it was difficult to know the breadth of such rapes, adding that he had received information of several hundred victims in some areas.

"The rape is a new aspect of the repression." Ocampo said.

Ocampo already asked for arrest warrants against Gadhafi, his son, Seif, and the country's intelligence chief on charges of crimes against humanity. Judges for the ICC, based in The Hague, Netherlands, are considering the request for warrants.

Ocampo's comments came as Gadhafi's forces responded to stepped-up NATO attacks on Tripoli by launching an attack on rebel positions outside of Misurata. A hospital reported at least 10 rebel fighters died and 26 were wounded, the British newspaper The Guardian said.

In Brussels, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox expressed frustration with the progress of the NATO-led military campaign.

"I firmly believe that we must intensify our pressure on the regime," Fox said. "[It] is imperative our military commanders have the assets and capabilities they need to do the job all of us around this table have asked of them: to defeat those regime elements which continue to threaten civilians."

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"Let me be frank," he said. "NATO is not just about military hardware. It is also about values. And those values are not an optional extra."

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