Libya unrest: Gaddafi envoys to hold talks in Moscow

Envoys of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi are to hold talks in Moscow with Russian officials.Separate talks with in Moscow with rebel officials had been expected a day later, but were put off “for technical reasons,” Russia said.The Kremlin has refused to accept the rebels as the legitimate power, and still has formal ties with Col Gaddafi.On Monday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor pressed for the arrest of Col Gaddafi.Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Col Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi bore the greatest responsibility for “widespread and systematic attacks” on civilians.ICC judges must still decide whether or not to issue warrants for their arrest.The Libyan government has already said it will ignore the announcement.In a separate development, explosions were heard near the residence of Col Gaddafi in Tripoli early on Tuesday.

Libyan officials later took reporters to the area and showed them the buildings, which were on fire after being hit in what appeared to be Nato air strikes.A government spokesman said one of buildings was a security services office.”We agreed on meetings in Moscow with representatives of both Tripoli and Benghazi (rebel officials),” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.”Official envoys from Tripoli will be here tomorrow. Envoys from Benghazi were supposed to be here on Wednesday, but as they informed us, they were forced to ask us to postpone this visit for technical reasons,” Mr Lavrov added.He did not specify what caused the delay, only saying that Moscow hopes the talks with the rebels “will take place in the foreseeable future”.Mr Lavrov also stressed that Russia was “ready to conduct dialogue with all”, repeating Moscow’s call for an end to fighting in Libya.Earlier on Monday, Mr Moreno-Ocampo said that after reviewing more than 1,200 documents and 50 interviews with key insiders and witnesses, his office had evidence showing that Col Gaddafi had “personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians”.

“His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in public spaces, shot demonstrators with live ammunition, used heavy weaponry against participants in funeral processions, and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after prayers,” he told a news conference in The Hague.”The evidence shows that such persecution is still ongoing as I speak today in the areas under Gaddafi control. Gaddafi forces have prepared a list with names of alleged dissidents, and they are being arrested, put into prisons in Tripoli, tortured and made to disappear,” he added.Mr Moreno-Ocampo continued: “His [Col Gaddafi’s] second-oldest son, Saif al-Islam, is the de facto prime minister and Sanussi, Gaddafi’s brother-in-law, is his right-hand man – the executioner, the head of military intelligence. He commanded personally some of the attacks.”The prosecutor insisted he was “almost ready” for a trial, based on the testimony, particularly of those who had escaped from Libya.Libya’s opposition National Transitional Council praised the ICC move.But its vice-president, Abdel Hafez Ghoga, said: “We would like him [Col Gaddafi] to be tried in Libya first before being put on trial in an international court.”The charges cover the days following the start of anti-government protests on 15 February. Between 500 and 700 people are believed to have been killed in that month alone. – BBC