ICC prosecutor wants access to Libya's Moussa

THE HAGUE Tue Apr 5, 2011 12:45pm BST

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court prosecutor said Tuesday he wants to speak with former Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa for his investigation into crimes against civilians in the North African state.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is investigating Muammar Gaddafi, his sons and key aides such as former foreign minister Moussa, who defected to London last month saying he made the decision because of attacks by Gaddafi forces on civilians.

"The fact that Moussa Koussa defected is interesting because that is one option you have. If you have no power to stop the crimes then you can defect to show you are not responsible," Moreno-Ocampo told Reuters in an interview.

"We are trying to see Moussa Koussa to interview him ... we would like to see what Moussa Koussa knows. But the fact that he defected is a factor we will consider seriously."

Moreno-Ocampo said investigators were now assessing who was most responsible for attacks against civilians and that it was too early to say what impact the defection would have.

"The fact is that when we warned different people including Moussa Koussa that the troops were committing crimes, if someone cannot control them, defecting is a valid option and that is what Moussa Koussa did. We will see what responsibility he had."

The United Nations Security Council in February referred Libya to the ICC, the world's first permanent war crimes court, and Moreno-Ocampo is due to report back to the U.N. on May 4, after which he is expected to request arrest warrants.

"We have evidence that after the Tunisia and Egypt conflicts, people in the (Gaddafi) regime were planning how to control demonstrations in Libya," Moreno-Ocampo said, adding the plan started to be developed in January.

"The shootings of civilians was a pre-determined plan."

Moreno-Ocampo also raised concern over security in Tripoli, saying his office believes people considered disloyal to the regime are being abducted, tortured and killed.

Investigators are avoiding talking to any witness who has family in Tripoli for fear of reprisals against them, he said.

As Western forces continued a campaign of air strikes on Tuesday, diplomatic efforts to end the war remained stalled.

Neither the rebels, nor Western powers will accept Libyan government offers to hold free elections and install a new constitution due to its insistence that Gaddafi stay in power.

Moreno-Ocampo also stressed his role is limited to a judicial one and that any political decision over Libya rests with the Security Council, which has the power to suspend investigations for 12 months at a time.

"We have judicial responsibilities. We collect evidence and present to the judges. Political responsibilities are in the hands of the Security Council," he said.

(Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Sara Webb and Jon Hemming)