The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Tuesday warned she “would not hesitate” to broaden her investigation into Libya war crimes amid intensified fighting near the capital Tripoli which killed at least 174.
Fighting broke out on April 4 when military strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to take Tripoli, the seat of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
“I will not hesitate to expand my investigations and potential prosecutions to cover any new instances of crimes falling within the court’s jurisdiction,” Fatou Bensouda said in The Hague.
“No one should doubt my determination in this regard,” Bensouda said in a statement.
Bensouda called on “all parties and armed groups involved in the fighting to fully respect the rules of international humanitarian law” including commanders.
At least 14 civilians were among those killed and 36 among the 758 people wounded in the fighting between pro-government forces and Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.
Fighting in the southern outskirts of the capital has also displaced more than 18,000 people, according to the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs.
Bensouda’s office in March 2011 launched a probe into war crimes committed during the uprising which saw the toppling of long-time Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
His son, Seif al-Islam, 46, is being sought by the Hague-based ICC, with judges ruling earlier this month that a crimes against humanity case could be brought against him.
Set up in 2002, the ICC is the world’s only independent tribunal to prosecute the worst crimes when countries are unable or unwilling to do so.
But the court has suffered several setbacks over recent years.
This including seeing some of its most high-profile suspects walk free and judges recently ruling against a request by Bensouda to probe war crimes committed in Afghanistan, including by US forces.