As Libyan rebels claim to be closing in on Muammar Qadhafi, human rights activists are urging them to turn the Libyan dictator over to the International Criminal Court for trial and not mete out justice themselves.
Leading the calls is the court’s Argentine prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who has charged Mr. Qadhafi along with his son Seif al-Islam and the regime’s intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Sanoussi with unleashing a campaign of murder and torture since February that aimed to wipe out anti-government protests.
“The law says there’s an arrest warrant pending and according to a Security Council resolution Libya has the obligation to cooperate with the court,” Moreno-Ocampo told reporters at the court.
Rebels have sent mixed signals about what they will do with Mr. Qadhafi if they catch him, saying they will cooperate with the ICC but holding open the prospect of trying him in a Libyan court.
Many people in Libya want to see Mr. Qadhafi and the members of his family and regime prosecuted at home for abuses throughout his 42-year rule rather than being sent to Hague to face justice for crimes committed only in the last six months as he fought desperately to cling to power.
Human Rights Watch on Wednesday also urged top diplomats meeting Libyan rebels in Paris on Thursday to push for Mr. Qadhafi’s surrender to the international court if he is captured.
Amnesty International echoed the call, saying Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council is not yet in a position to put Mr. Qadhafi on trial as it seeks to restore order to the North African nation ravaged by civil war.
Meanwhile, Ali Tarhouni, deputy head of the National Transitional Council, said rebels were homing in on the fugitive dictator.
“Qadhafi is now fleeing and we have a good idea where he is,” Mr. Tarhouni said on Tuesday, without elaborating. “We don’t have any doubt that we will catch him.”