Libya has rejected the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Council Monday in The Hague, for the Libyan leader, Muammar Al Qathafi, his son Seif and his intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, saying it does not accept the ICC's jurisdiction and that the move was a "cover" for a NATO bombing campaign.
The decision is a "cover for NATO which is still trying to assassinateAl Qathafi," Libya's justice minister, Mohammed al-Gamudi said at learning of the arrest warrants. He also noted that Libya was not a signatory to the Treaty of Rome establishing the tribunal based in The Hague, and "does not accept the jurisdiction of the court".
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the rebel leader, speaking through an interpreter, said the decision by the ICC to pursue Gaddafi for war crimes made.
At the same time, Mr Jalil said that the ICC's decision to pursue the Libyan leader for war crimes stops all suggestions of negotiations and any talks impossible with, or protection for Al Qathafi.
He also reportedly vowed to bring the Libyan leader to task for crimes committed before the February uprising, but ruled out suggestions. At the same time he ruled out suggestions that a foreign force would be needed to catch him.
The ICC's decision will heap pressure on those close to Al Qathafi, as they raised the prospect of further prosecutions. "If anyone hides him, they will be tracked down and brought to justice," Jalil warned.
ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is urging Al Qathafi’s own aides to arrest the Libyan leader and turn him over for trial on murder and persecution charges.
Moreno-Ocampo has been reported saying by AP that Al Qathafi's inner circle has to decide whether to be part of the problem or part of the solution in Libya. The warrants isolate Al Qathafi and his regime, but the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal has no police force and therefore must rely on others to make the arrest.
While reaction by Western leaders as to the arrest warrant was greeted with satisfaction, particularly from the US, Britain, France, and also NATO, who said that Al Qathafi “has lost his legitimacy,” and that the Al Qathafi regime should see the writing on the wall, as becomes even more isolated, South African President Jacob Zuma expressed disappointment at the court's decision.
Zuma, who has been involved in an African Union initiative on Libya, said, through presidentual spokesman Zizi Kodwa: "It's quite unfortunate that the ICC could take such a decision whilst the African Union through its ad hoc committee has done so much."