Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi is a wanted man.
The International Criminal Court at The Hague has issued an arrest warrant for the North African leader, and similar warrants for his son Seif al-Islam and his chief of intelligence, Abdullah Senussi, following a decision earlier this month by the United Nations to instruct the Court to do so. They are charged with committing crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution.
Qaddafi and his two top lieutenants are being held responsible for the murders of hundreds of civilians following 'Arab Spring' protests that began in February along with other waves pf protest that swept the region. The warrants only cover events spanning the 10-day period from February 18 to February 28 -- even before the conflict had erupted into full civil war between government and rebel forces.
In an effort to end the bloodshed, Turkey, one of the few Muslim nations to escape the ravages of the regional uprisings, last month proposed a ceasefire plan calling for Qaddafi to step down but also ensuring safe passage out of the country for him and his family. The Libyan dictator rejected the overture.
In handing down his decision, ICC Presiding Judge Sanji Monageng of Botswana said after a 30-minute hearing that "reasonable grounds" exist to believe that Qaddafi, his son and Senussi were to blame not only for the deaths, but for hundreds more who were wounded, and even more who were imprisoned. Monageng added that it was impossible, in fact, to know just how many were murdered since the crimes have been covered up. The judge added that Qaddafi's policy of stifling dissent was one of the "most powerful and efficient instruments of repression" wielded by the dictator.
Although Libya does not recognize the International Criminal Court, the charges carry the weight of the United Nations Security Council. Nevertheless, the ICC has no independent police force to enforce its will.