Friday, September 9, 2011

Interpol Issues Qaddafi Arrest Warrant as More Libyan Officials Flee-Ny Times

TRIPOLI, Libya — As Interpol issued arrest warrants for the fugitive Libyan autocrat Col. Muammar Qaddafi and two others on Friday, reports came from Niger of a new convoy of high-ranking Libyan officials arriving across the desert.

In Lyon, France, Interpol said in a statement that it had issued so-called red notices calling for the arrests of Colonel Qaddafi, his son, Seif al-Islam, and Abdullah al-Senussi, the head of the former leader’s intelligence agency.

The red notices, which were requested by the International Criminal Court at The Hague for alleged war crimes committed by the three men, require any of Interpol’s 188 member nations to arrest the suspects and turn them over to that court.

Among the member nations is Niger, which borders Libya on the south and has received a number of convoys of loyalist officials fleeing overland. So far, no high-ranking regime figures were confirmed to be accompanying them.

On Friday, according to the Reuters News Agency, 14 loyalist officials arrived in the northern Niger city of Agadez, including General Ali Kana, who is said to be a Tuareg in charge of Qaddafi’s southern troops. Tuareg tribesmen, who live on both sides of the Libyan-Niger border in the Sahara desert, have been major supporters of the Qaddafi regime.

Reuters reported that the group also included another general, Ali Sharif al-Rifi, the commander of the Libyan air force, and two other top officials, who were said to be staying at the Etoile du Tenere hotel in Agadez. The hotel is thought to be owned by Colonel Qaddafi.

“Muammar Gaddafi is a fugitive whose country of nationality and the International Criminal Court want arrested and held accountable for the serious criminal charges that have been brought against him,” said Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble in a written statement. “Interpol will cooperate with and assist the ICC and Libyan authorities represented by the interim Transitional National Council of Libya to apprehend Muammar Gaddafi.”

“Arresting Gaddafi is a matter of time,” the Interpol statement quoted the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, as saying. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo had requested the Interpol action on Thursday.

There was no suggestion that Colonel Qaddafi or the two other wanted men were known to be among those who arrived in the latest convoy to Niger. The country has been under intense international pressure to turn over any Qaddafi officials who arrive there.

Two of Colonel Qaddafi’s sons and his second wife fled to Algeria, which granted them asylum on humanitarian grounds, leading to vigorous criticism from Libyan rebel leaders. Algeria is also one of Interpol’s 188 member countries, as are all of Libya’s neighbors.

On Thursday, Colonel Qaddafi issued a statement by audio to a Syrian television station denying that he had left the country, and scoffing at news of convoys crossing the desert to Niger, saying such traffic was normal between the two countries.

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