9 Jun 2011

Gaddafi ‘ordered rape attacks’ as tactic of war – ICC

The International Criminal Court says it has found evidence that the Libyan dictator has been using rape to punish female opponents.

A Libyan woman protesting as the ICC says it has evidence Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has ordered rape to be used against female opponents (Reuters)

Libya dictator Muammar Gaddafi has told his troops to rape female opponents, with evidence existing of the regime acquiring Viagra-type drugs to assist them, according to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

ICC investigators say they have evidence linking the leader to the policy and may bring charges on the issue.

The ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that evidence had emerged of Gaddafi authorising the crimes “and this is new”.

Last month, Mr Moreno-Ocampo requested arrest warrants against Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and the country’s spy chief on charges of crimes against humanity committed in their bid to crush the rebellion.

Rape as weapon of war

The allegation of troops raping female opponents is not new. But evidence linking Gaddafi to the policy is.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo told the Reuters news agency previously the question had been whether he could be associated with the rapes – “or is it something that happened in the barracks?”

He went on: “It never was the pattern he used to control the population. The rape is a new aspect of the repression. Apparently, he decided to punish using rapes.”

Mr Moreno-Ocampo’s investigative team had found “some elements” confirming the purchase of “Viagra-type of medicaments,”.

He said there was evidence of Libya acquiring “containers” of such drugs “to enhance the possibility to rape women.”

There were thought to be several hundred victims in some areas, the investigator added.

Eman al-Obeidi

In March, the issue of rape in Libya was brought to the world’s attention when a Libyan woman, Eman al-Obeidi, burst into a Tripoli hotel used by the western media in considerable distress, claiming to have been raped at gunpoint by Gaddafi’s forces.

She was subsequently arrested and faced charges of naming men she said raped her.

"She told us she'd been raped 15 times and that the militia men had bound her wrists to her ankles and defecated and urinated on her. She showed us a still-bloody laceration on her thigh and many marks and scratches, on her wrists and face.It was hard to get her story down though because a hotel waitress, brandishing a knife, was screaming back at her that she was betraying the Brother Leader. That she was a traitor."

Read Jonathan Miller's account his encounter with Eman al-Obeidi

Atrocities report

Meanwhile, Libya has criticised a separate UN investigation which alleges atrocities have been committed by both sides of the conflict

The UN’s Human Rights Council is meeting today to discuss the findings of a report into alleged violations of international law by both sides.

The report, published last week, alleges that torture was committed by both the Gaddafi regime and the armed opposition forces.

“Torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment were committed by the Government and the opposition forces in violation of obligations under international human rights law and humanitarian law,” the report states.

Libya accused both rebels and NATO forces on Thursday of committing war crimes and firmly denied the report’s findings of crimes committed by Government forces.

Mustafa AA Shaban, of Libya’s foreign ministry, delivered the attack and defence of the government of Muammar Gaddafi at the UN Human Rights Council.

“Cities in the hands of armed gangs suffer terrible violations of human rights and heinous crimes,” Shaban told the Geneva forum.

“In Misrata, Libyan and foreign gangs who were arrested confessed to cutting throats and cutting off breasts of live women and even admitted to acts of cannibalism.”

“NATO is violating human rights in Libya tantamount to crimes against humanity, crimes of war and crimes of aggression,” he said in speech.

The council is expected to give its response later today.