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The situation in Libya is the International Criminal Court's (ICC) sixth investigation. To date, three arrests warrants have been issued in this investigation: against Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi.
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On 27 June 2011, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I (PTC I) issued warrants of arrest for Libyan leader Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, his son Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, Libyan government spokesman, and Abdullah Al-Senussi, Director of Military Intelligence, for alleged crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) committed in Libya from 15 February until at least 28 February 2011.
The ICC Prosecutor applied for arrest warrants against Muammar Al-Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi on 16 May 2011. PTC I judges decided that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the three suspects committed crimes against humanity and that the warrants of arrest were necessary to ensure their appearance before the ICC, to prevent interference in the ongoing investigation and to prevent the commission of further crimes.
Responsibility for the implementation of arrest warrants lies with the Libyan national authorities. Libya is obliged to cooperate fully with the ICC and the prosecutor, under the terms of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1970 (2011). However, cooperation from the Libyan Transitional National Council and other states may be needed to ensure the arrest of the three suspects.
On 19 November 2011, Al-Islam Gaddafi was arrested by Libyan authorities, and on 23 January 2012, they submitted confidential observations on the arrest and detention following a request from PTC I on 6 December 2011. On 4 April 2012, PTC I reiterated its order that Libya must immediately surrender Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to the Court. An appeal by Libya against this order was dismissed by the Appeals Chamber on 25 April.
On 2 February 2012, PTC I rejected applications for leave to submit amicus curiae observations by Mishana Hosseinioun and Aisha Gaddafi, as well as their subsequent requests for leave to appeal. The applicants also appealed directly to the Appeals Chamber on issues of jurisdiction and admissibility.
On 17 March 2012, Al-Senussi was arrested in Mauritania. France and Libya are also reported to be seeking his extradition to their custody. On 22 November 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I decided to terminate the case against Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi following his death.
On 1 May 2012, Libya challenged the admissibility of the cases before the Court and on 1 June 2012, Pre-Trial Chamber I postponed the obligation to arrest Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi pending the outcome of the admissibility challenge.
On 7 June 2012 four ICC staff members were detained in Zintan, Libya, while undertaking a mission authorized by ICC judges and approved by the interim Libyan government to visit with Saif al-Islam Qaddafi. The four were released on 2 July 2012.
On 5 September 2012, former Libyan intelligence chief and ICC suspect, Abdullah Al-Senussi, was extradited from Mauritania to Libya. Al-Senussi, had been arrested in Nouakchott, Mauritania in March 2012.
On 8-9 October 2012, PTC I held a public hearing to discuss Libya’s challenge to the admissibility of the cases against Saif Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi, presented by the Libyan government on 1 May 2012.
On 6 February 2013, PTC I decided that Libya was still under an obligation to surrender Abdullah Al-Senussi to the Court. However, the Chamber postponed the obligation to surrender Saif Gaddafi until it decides on Libya’s May 2012 challenge to ICC jurisdiction in the case.
The formal investigation into the situation in Libya was opened by the ICC Prosecutor on 3 March 2011, following a preliminary examination of available information. The prosecutor's announcement came after the UNSC adopted Resolution 1970 (2011) on 26 February 2011, which referred the situation in Libya, a state not party to the Rome Statute, to the ICC. It was the second time that a situation was referred to the Court by the UNSC under its Chapter VII authority and the first time such a resolution was passed unanimously.
On 4 May 2011, the ICC Prosecutor addressed the UNSC on progress made in his investigation into violence in Libya. He announced that his office would soon submit its first application to judges for arrest warrants and indicated that further cases may be opened in relation to other crimes committed as part of the ongoing hostilities in Libya.
The prosecutor will address the UNSC every six months on the progress made in his investigation.
On 4 March 2011, the ICC Presidency assigned the situation in Libya to Pre-Trial Chamber I. The Chamber is currently composed of Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert (Belgium), Judge Hans-Peter Kaul (Germany), and Judge Silvia Fernandez Gurmendi (Argentina).
For additional information and to view the Court's latest decisions, visit the ICC website
On 6 February 2013, PTC I decided that Libya was still under an obligation to surrender Al-Senussi to the Court. However, the Chamber postponed the obligation to surrender Saif Gaddafi until it decides on Libya’s May 2012 challenge to ICC jurisdiction in the case.
On 17 April 2013, PTC I granted a request by the Office of the Public Counsel for Defence (OPCD), that it be relinquished from its court-appointed representation of Saif Gaddafi citing “an imminent depletion in staffing.” John Jones QC has been appointed in place of the OPCD.
On 2 April 2013, Libya filed an admissibility challenge to the ICC case against Al-Senussi, citing ongoing domestic investigations into alleged crimes by him in Libya.
On 31 May 2013, PTC I rejected Libya’s challenge to the admissibility of the case against Saif Gaddafi before the ICC and ordered his surrender. PTC I concluded that Libya’s domestic investigation did not sufficiently cover the alleged crimes included in the ICC case. Judges recognized Libya’s efforts to restore the rule of law, but stressed that it continues to face difficulties in exercising its judicial powers, including the ability to secure Gaddafi into state custody. Libya has since appealed the decision; however the obligation to surrender Gaddafi remains in place during the appeal of the admissibility decision.
On 18 July 2013, the Appeals Chamber rejected Libya’s request to suspend the surrender of Saif Gaddafi to the Court while a final decision is pending on its challenge to the admissibility of case. In May, PTC I had decided Gaddafi must be transferred and tried at the ICC. On 23 July 2013, Gaddafi’s defense requested PTC I to find that Libya has failed to cooperate by deliberately refusing to surrender him to the Court and to refer the matter to the UN Security Council.
On 11 October 2013, PTC I ruled that the case against Al-Senussi was inadmissible before the ICC on the basis that Libyan authorities are both willing and able to effectively prosecute him. This was the first time that judges have found in favor of a government challenge to ICC jurisdiction over a case. Al-Senussi has appealed and requested that the decision be suspended pending a final outcome.
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