Libya: Arrest Warrants for Key Government Figures

The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants today for Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi, his son Salif-al Islam, and his intelligence chief, Abdullah Al-Sanussi. The trio has been accused of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the murder and persecution of protestors during the uprising that swept the country earlier this year. While Qaddafi has ultimate control over the Libyan government, Salif-al Islam and Al-Sanussi are considered to have been instrumental in the development and execution of the violent strategies used in the government’s crackdown on the dissention that precipitated the ongoing civil war.

Despite celebration in the rebel capital of Benghazi, government officials there admit that the arrest warrants may make negotiating Qaddafi out of power near impossible. Al Jazeera reported that the rebel government has “made it clear that the door has been shut to any peaceful political settlement of this conflict. They are worried that [Qaddafi], who now is a prisoner in his own country, will fight until the end, until death.”

Cambodia: Khmer Rouge Trials Begin

Trials have begun today for four former Khmer Rogue officials accused of helping to orchestrate the mass atrocities committed under the regime’s rule from 1975 to 1979. Prosecutors for the UN-backed tribunal are claiming that each of the four defendants had direct influence in developing or executing government policies that caused the death of around 1.7 million Cambodians.

All four have pleaded not guilty to charges that include murder, genocide, torture, and religious persecution. Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge second in command, apologized for the deaths but maintains that government officials were acting as liberators, protecting the nation from Vietnamese military incursion. Khieu Samphan, the former head of state, whose ideology heavily influenced government policies, says he was unaware of the killings. The former foreign minister, Ieng Sary, a trusted member of  the regime’s inner circle, is claiming double-jeopardy, citing his conviction in a trial in 1979, for which he later received a pardon. His wife, Ieng Thirith, the former social affairs minister, who is accused of planning mass killings, said she was also unaware of the atrocities being committed and places the blame instead on Nuon Chea.

The trial is immensely “complex,” according to the New York Times. It includes “a 700-page indictment, hundreds of witnesses, thousands of pages of documentary evidence, scores of lawyers in the courtroom and three working languages — Khmer, English and French.”