NATO may face War Crimes Inquiry over civilian deaths
Some NATO members are worried that their organization may be investigated by the International Criminal Court after its prosecutor said allegations of crimes committed by NATO in Libya would be examined “impartially and independently,” according to diplomats accredited to NATO headquarters.
The diplomats said action to pre-empt a war crimes investigation would likely include an immediate internal legal review of all incidents in which NATO bombing or other actions caused civilian casualties.
In a briefing to the Security Council on Nov. 2, International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said “there are allegations of crimes committed by NATO forces [and] these allegations will be examined impartially and independently.”
NATO has said it was confident its actions were in compliance with international law and that the alliance is not worried by the possibility of a war crimes probe.
Officials from the alliance say that between March and October NATO warplanes flew 26,000 sorties, including more than 9,600 strike missions, destroying more than 1,000 tanks, vehicles, and guns, as well as buildings claimed to have housed “command and control” centers. These included facilities such as Moammar Gadhafi’s heavily fortified compound in Tripoli, but also residential homes of his supporters – targets that could be considered outside the U.N. mandate.
NATO already is involved in a civil suit in Belgium that accuses the alliance of killing 13 civilians in the bombing of a residential compound near Libya’s capital, Tripoli.