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Gadhafi faces investigation for crimes against humanity

By Atika Shubert, CNN
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Libyan criminals 'on notice'
  • Prosecutor to probe allegations of killing protesters, illegal detention, airstrikes on civilians
  • If troops commit crimes, Moammar Gadhafi could be held responsible, prosecutor says
  • Anti-Gadhafi forces also could be investigated, he warns
  • It's the first time the International Criminal Court has probed an ongoing event

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(CNN) -- Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and some of his sons and closest advisers face investigation for alleged crimes against humanity, International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Thursday.

"I would like to use this opportunity to put them on notice," Moreno-Ocampo told CNN. "I want to be clear: If their troops commit crimes, they could be made criminally responsible."

It is the first time the court will be investigating allegations as an event is ongoing.

They include allegations of security forces killing unarmed protesters, forced displacement, illegal detention and airstrikes on civilians.

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Investigators will look at the most serious accusations in Libya since February 15, the prosecutor said, when demonstrations against Gadhafi ramped up.

Moreno-Ocampo provided a map showing the locations where alleged crimes may have been committed.

He cautioned, however, that he needed more time to review the evidence.

"This is the beginning of the investigation. I can give no details," he said.

"We cannot confirm these allegations that these civilians were bombed by planes. But we have ... confirmation that civilians that were demonstrating were shot by security forces.

"We interview people and we will present the evidence to the judges. The judges will decide who should be prosecuted," he said.

But Moreno-Ocampo warned that anti-Gadhafi protesters would also be held accountable for criminal activity.

"Now, it's not just civilian demonstrations. Now, there are people opposing Gadhafi with weapons. And also we would like to warn them, you cannot commit crimes. Our business in Libya is (to) stop the crimes," he said.

The prosecutor will offer Gadhafi and others "any opportunity they want to provide their own version (of events). Because we have to be impartial. But also, we want to warn the other parties. No one can commit crimes in Libya."

Moreno-Ocampo emphasized it was the first time the ICC was able to respond in real time to allegations, partially due to social-networking sites such as Facebook.

"This triggered a very quick reaction. The (United Nations) Security Council reacted in a few days; the U.N. General Assembly reacted in a few days. So, now because the court is up and running we can do this immediately," he said.

"I think Libya is a new world. How we manage the new challenge -- that's what we will see now."

Moreno-Ocampo, who said he plans to finish his investigation within weeks and hopes to have the judge's decision within months, also announced the probe at a press conference Thursday.

"We identified some individuals with a factor of formal authority who have authority on the security forces who allegedly committed the crimes," he told reporters.

"They are Moammar Al Gadhafi, his inner circle including some of his sons who have a facto authority, but also there are some people with formal authority that should pay attention to the crimes committed by their people because if they are not preventing stopping and punishing these crimes they could be responsible in accordance with the law.

"They are minister of foreign affairs, the head of the regime security and intelligence, the head of Gadhafi personal security and the head of Libyan external security. So we would like to use this opportunity to put them on notice. If forces under their command commit criminal acts, they could be responsible."

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