Conflict & Justice

ICC investigating Gaddafi over use of rape as weapon


Libyan women hold pictures of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as they rally outside the Rixos Hotel where foreign journalists are based in the Libyan capital Tripoli on May 22, 2011 in Tripoli.


Mahmud Turkia

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said Wednesday that there was evidence that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi ordered the rape of hundreds of women, according to BBC News. He said he was also looking at possible evidence that pro-Gaddafi security forces had been provided with drugs like Viagra to enhance their sex drive.

Luis Moreno Ocampo said his office was collecting evidence on rapes and had become "more convinced" that Gaddafi had moved to punish women by using rape as a weapon, apparently a new method in the Libyan conflict of instilling fear and trying to subdue the population, the Huffington Post reported.

"The rape is a new aspect of the repression," Moreno Ocampo said, according to BBC News. "And that's why we had doubts at the beginning but now we are more convinced."

He said it was difficult to know how widespread the use of rape was.

"In some areas we had a number of 100 people raped. The issue for us was, can we attribute these rapes to Gaddafi himself, or is it something that happened in the barracks," he explained.

Last month, Moreno Ocampo asked ICC judges to approve arrest warrants for Gaddafi, one of his sons, and his chief of intelligence. He accused them of committing two types of crimes against humanity, murder and persecution, saying they bore the greatest responsibility for attacks on civilians at the beginning of the anti-government uprising in February, when between 500 and 700 people are believed to have been killed.

Judges are evaluating the evidence and must decide whether to confirm the charges and issue international arrest warrants. If the arrest warrants are issued, Moreno Ocampo said he might add the charge of rape to the case, according to the Huffington Post.

He said that some witnesses had confirmed that the Libyan government was buying containers of "Viagra-type" drugs as part of an official rape policy, in order "to enhance the possibility to rape," according to the Telegraph.

"They were buying containers to enhance the possibility to rape women," he said.

In March, a Libyan woman, Eman al-Obeidy, made headlines around the world after she burst into a Tripoli hotel and said she had been raped by Gaddafi's troops.

The Libyan government does not recognize the ICC's jurisdiction.