Libyan Judge Khalifa Isa Khalifa announced Wednesday that charges are being filed against 21 rebels attempting to overthrow Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Charges include [AP report] facilitating foreign intervention in Libya [JURIST backgrounder], providing aid and military secrets to the enemy and seeking to topple Gadhafi's regime by force. Among those charged is the head of the rebel group the National Transition Council [official website]. Khalifa plans to try the 21 suspects in absentia in a closed trial before a panel of three judges, and then seek international arrest warrants through Interpol [official website]. He did not comment on whether the recent International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] arrest warrant [JURIST report] against Gaddafi and two of his high-ranking officials would be honored. If convicted, the rebels will likely receive the death penalty.
Earlier in June, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official website] presented the materials to Pre-Trial Chamber. He said his office had gathered "direct evidence" [JURIST report] that shows Gaddafi personally ordered attacks on civilian protestors and that his forces used live ammunition on crowds, attacked civilians in their homes, used heavy weapons against people in funeral processions and placed snipers to shoot those leaving mosques after prayer services. Moreno-Ocampo announced last month that his office was pursuing arrest warrants [JURIST report] against Gaddafi and the two others in his "inner circle." He said al-Islam was acting as Gaddafi's "de facto Prime Minister" and called al-Sanussi Gaddafi's "right-hand man" and "executioner." At that time, Moreno-Ocampo said his office was almost prepared for trial, having collected quality testimony from some who have fled Libya. There have been numerous allegations of war crimes and human rights violations over the Libyan revolt which has persisted since February. Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] decided to extend a mandate to an investigative panel instructing it to continue its investigation of human rights abuses in Libya, after it published a 92-page report [JURIST reports]. The report claims Libyan authorities have committed crimes against humanity such as acts constituting murder, imprisonment and other severe deprivations of physical liberties, torture, forced disappearances and rape "as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack."