Home | News    Thursday 19 May 2011

Chad says it will not execute ICC warrant against Libya’s Gaddafi

May 18, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – The Chadian government on Wednesday made it clear that it will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in arresting three Libyan officials named by the tribunal’s chief prosecutor as suspects in the violent crackdown against protestors that took place last February.

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FILE - Chad’s President Deby and Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi leave a family photo during an EU-Africa summit in Tripoli (Reuters)

On Monday, the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced from the Hague that he has presented a case to the judges against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and spy chief Abdullah al-Sanoosi on two counts of murder and persecution.

The Pre-Trial Chamber I will now have to decide whether there is sufficient evidence that call for issuing arrest warrants against the three men. The process could take anywhere from few weeks to several months.

Omer Yahya, the press adviser for Chadian president Idriss Deby, told the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper that his country is committed to the African Union (AU) decision instructing members not to cooperate with the ICC in arresting Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir who is also wanted by the court.

The Chadian official suggested that the decision applies to all suspects wanted by the court that are still at large.

"It is true that we ratified the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court but we also endorsed the decision of the African Union adopted on July 2009 in Sirte, Libya refusing to cooperate with the ICC," Yahya said.

"We are an independent country and stand by the decision of the African Union and if there is a new resolution [mandating] cooperation with the ICC we will be a part of it but so far the African Union has not declared that it supports the decision of the Hague" he added.

Gaddafi has forced the AU in the 2009 Sirte summit to grant Bashir immunity across the continent even in countries that are signatories to the Rome Statute. At the time it was South Africa, Botswana and Chad who opposed the decision and vowed to execute the warrant should the Sudanese leader set foot on their territory.

But following a thaw in Chad-Sudan relations, Deby has welcomed Bashir for a regional summit in Ndjamena and refused to arrest him contrary to his earlier position. Kenya and Djibouti are the other two ICC members that have allowed Bashir to visit without apprehending him.

In late February, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously referred the situation in Libya to the ICC as it did with Darfur six years ago. Nigeria, Gabon and South Africa were the African members of the council when the decision was passed.

At the time the Libyan UN delegation, which has denounced Gaddafi, sent a letter to the UNSC president asking for an ICC referral which allows the court to investigate even if the country has not ratified the Rome Statute.

The AU has adopted no formal position with regards to the ICC referral in the Libya case. The pan-African body has been hostile to the Hague tribunal and accused it of targeting its leaders while turning a blind eye to atrocities elsewhere.

Yahya further said that Chad will not recognize the National Transitional Council (NTC) which is engaged in a military campaign to unseat Gaddafi. It was formed on an ad-hoc basis in the wake of the unrest across the country and contains senior figures who defected from Gaddafi. So far it has managed to control most of the territory in Eastern Libya.

"We do not stand with the Libyan rebels as they have no real authority in their country. They do not control the situation so far......our position is clear on the issue of the National Transitional Council in Libya .. we do not support the rebels and what is happening in Libya is an internal issue that has nothing to do with us," he added.

He said that Chad hopes for the situation in Libya to calm down and become stable.

The remarks by the Chadian official will likely deepen the NTC’s existing suspicions towards Libya’s Southern neighbor particularly given the strong ties between Gaddafi and Deby in the past.

The NTC accused Gaddafi of bringing in African mercenaries from several countries including Chad and Zimbabwe to help Libyan troops trying to put down the uprising.

However, Chad vehemently denied the charges and even accused rebels of executing its nationals for suspecting that they are mercenaries.

The ICC prosecutor said that he will investigate allegations made about possible war crimes during the conflict in Libya including attacks against sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries.